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OR MORE THAN TWO HUNDRED years con[rovcrsy has raged over the rC'uabiliry of rhe Old Tesramcm. Ques. rions abOlH [he facru al i ["}l of i rs colcwfu1 sto ries of heroes, vLllains, and kings, for example, have led man,. crirics ro see the entire Hebrew Bible a~ little more than pious fictIOn. In this fascinatmg new book, noted ancient historian K. A. Kitchen takes strong issue wirb mday's "revisionisr" cr:irics and offers 3 finn foundarion for rhe hiswriciry ofrhe bib lical rexes.

In a derailed, compl'ehensive, and entertaining manner, Kitchen draws on an unprecedented ra.nge of historical data from the ancient Near East - the Bibh:'s own world and uses kt to soundly n:assess borh [he bibl.ical record .ind rhc cr:irics who cond~~mn it:. Working back from [he latest p riod .. (for which hard evidence is readily availab~e) co rhe remotest times, Kitchen systematICally shows up the many failures of favored argumems against the Bible and marshals pertinen[ pcrmanent evidence from antiquity' s inscriptions and artifacts to dcmonsrrare dlC' basic honcs(j' of rhe Old 'rcsramcnr wrircrs.
Enhanced wirh IlUlllerOUS tables, figures. and maps , On chI: Reliabili'Jl afthe Old Testament is a must read for anyone intr.rested in the question of biblical truth.




K. A. Kitchen




U .K.

C 2003 W111 _ B_ Eerdrn~ns Publishing Co. All rights reserved Wm. B. Eerdmam Publishing Co.
l55 /rfferson Aw. S.E., Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503 f

P.O. Box 163, Camb ridge

cnJ 9PU U. K.

06 07 06 05 04 03

Library of Congress Cat~logi ng-in-Publicatjon Data Kitchen, K. A. (Ke mlC1h Anderson) O n th ... reliability of the Old 'Ieslarnent f K. A. Kitchen.



Includes bibliographical rdef('nces and index. ISBN 0 -8026-4960 -1 (a lk. paper)


Bible. 0:1: -


authority, elC.
I. litle.

2. Bible. O.T. -

Hi sto ry of Biblical ewnts. BSllSo _ Kj6

221.1 -

de2l rclm.l rlS.COrn

To Howard Marshall,
hI wnrmest friendship and regard

"al/ things come to him who waits!"


Tables Figllres Preface Abbreyiations





First Things First "[n Medias Res" -

What's in Question? the Era of the Hebrew Kingdoms Exi[e and Return Saul, David, and Solomon 7 65 81 159 241 313 373 421 449
501 643 649


3. Home and Away -

4. The Empire Strikes Back 5. Humble Beginnings -

around and in Canaan Exodus and Covenant the Patriarchs

6. Lotus Eating and Moving On -

7. Founding Fathers or Fleeting Phantoms 8. A Vitamin Supplement 9. Back to Methuselah 10.

Prophets and Prophecy

and Well Beyond

Last Things Last Notes Index of Subjects

a Few Conclusions

Index of Scripture References



The Seven Segments of Traditional Biblical "History" Hebrew Kings and Contemporaries Given by the Biblical Sources
B.C .:

8 30


3. Kings of Israel and Judah, 931-586

Basic Dates

4. Individual Site Profiles, ca . 1000-500 B.C. 5. Outline Correlation of Archaeological Data, External Written Sources, and Biblical Data 6. Neo- Babylonian and Persian Rulers in OT and External Sources 7. Kings and Suggested Dates, Israelite United Monarchy 8. The Book of Joshua as It Is 9. Formulae for Captured Towns in Joshua 10 loA. Formulae. Towns Captured in EA 185 lOB. Formulae, Towns Captured in EA 186


73 83

Book of Judges, Outline and Layout Zones in \,\' hich "Judges" Are Said to Have Operated


13. Explicit Sequences of Judges and Related People 14. Combined Regions and Sequences of Judges plus Oppressors, with Figures


15 A Provisional Scheme of Dates for the Epoch of the Judges 16. Broad Summary Chronology, Period of the Judges 17 The Plagues Themselves 18. Sequenced Nile Plagues Phenomena 19 Articulation in Plague Narrative
20 .

207 210 249 25 1 253 27 1 284


Topography and Text, Etham to Mount Sinai

21. The Sinai Covenant and Its Renewals


Treaty, Law, Covenant,

2500-650 B.C.

2) . Treaty, Law, Covenant, Phase I (Th ird Millennium) 24 Treaty, Law, Covenant, Phase Il (ca. 2100 - '700) 25 Treaty, Law, Covenant, Phases III-IV (1800 -1700 -1400) 26. Treaty, Law, Covenant, Phases V-VI (1400 - 1200; 900 -650) 27 Deuteronomy 28 Curses and Other Sources 28 . Possible Periodization of the 480 Years (I Kings 6:1) 29 Outline of Patriarchal Record )0 . Yahdun-Iim and Genesis 14 31. The Treaties of Genesis 21-}1 32 . The "Bifid" Format of Isaiah

286 287 287 288 292 )09 )14 3" )24 379 3 82 424 4)1

33 Schema of the Book of Jeremiah

)4 The Four "Primeval Protohistories"

The Genesis



3 6 . Twin Representat ive Sequences, Creation to the Flood )7 Undulation, Not "Evolution"



The figures listed below appear in a section between pages 603 and 642.


The Ancient Near East and Biblica l World : General Map "Happy Families," Signed and Sealed . Hebrew Seals, 8th -6th Centuries llC


3. Calendars and Regnal Years in the Biblical World 4. The Assyrian Evidence for Non -Accession Years in 9th -Century Israel 5. Shoshenq I (Shishak): Megiddo Stela and Geography of His List 6. Segments of Shoshenq's Route in Palestine, from His List 7. The Campaign of Shoshenq I in Palestine, King and Other Troops 8. Contemporaries of Israel, 9th -8th centuries A. Jezebel B. Hazael
C. Osorkon IV

9- Sennacherib of Assyria vs. Judah and Allies, 701



Sixth -Century Babylon and lehoiachin: A. View of Babylon B. Plan of Babylon

C. Jehoiachin's Ration Tablets

Nehemiah's Three Foes: A. Sanballat I of Samaria

B. Tobiah of Ammon
C. Geshem of Qedar ( North Arabia) 12. The Kingdom of Saul Approximate Extent, c. 1020 BC

13. "David" in Ancient Texts, c. 925 -830 Be: Dan, Mesha, Shishak 14 . "Mini-Empires," 1200-900 BC. A . Contrast with Maxi-Empires

15 . "Mini- Empires": ll. IndividuaHy : 1-3. Carchemish, Tabal, Aram

16 . "Mini- Empires": B. Individually : 4. David and Solomon 17. Date Line of Shoshenq I (Shishak) as a Ruler of Foreign Origin 18A. Siamun, Triumph Scene 18B. Handcuff on Egyptian Prisoner 19 . Temple Storerooms:

A. Sahure, Egypt
B. So[omon 20A . Palace of Zimri-lim, MaTi, c. 1750 Be 20B. Palace of Yarim -lim, Alalakh, 18th Century Be 20C. State Palace of Akhenaten, Egyp t, c. 1340 Be 200. Hittite Citadel and Palace Complex, Hattusas, c. 1250 Be 20E. Citadel and Palaces, Kings of Sam'al (Zincirli), 9th -8th centuries Be 21. Conjectural Restoration ofSo]omon's Temple <lnd Palace Area 22. Wealth of Solomon and Osorkon I. Amounts and Compared 23 . Formats of lnstrllction<l[ Wisdom Books, c. 2500---100 Be 24 . Solomonic Palestine No Empty Land

25 . Joshua's South and North C<lmpaigns 26. The Realm of "Arad" through the Ages 27. Exodus Route: Key Map to Segments I- IV


28. Exodus Route, I: Raamses to the Sinai Desert 29. Exodus Route, 1[: Etham Desert to Mt. Sinai 30. Exodus Rou te, 11[: Mt. Sinai to
Qa d esh~Barnea

31. Exodus Route, IV: Qadesh-Barnea to the Plains of Moab 32. Ramesside and Roman Data on Routes East from Egypt 33. Two Thousand Years of Tabernacles, Sacred and Profane 34. Ornate Ancient Embroidery 1,000 Years before the Tabernacle

35. "Moab," "Dibon," and "[srael" in Egyptian 36. Egypt's East Delta Capitals Sometimes, Not Always

37. Group of Western Semites Visiting Egypt, c. 1873 38. Annals of Amenemhat II 39. Starving Semites 40. Scarab Seal of Chancellor "Hur"

41. Geopolitics of the Biblical World, and the Patriarchs 42. Go West, Young Man! Kings Invading, Early lIld Millennium 43. Rising Price of Slaves through 2,000 Years 44. Rise and Fall of "Amorite Imperfective" Names 45. Symbols of Authority : Gold Collar, Linen Robe, Signet Seal 46. "The Camels Are Coming!" For Abram and Moses

47. Lachish, Fosse Temple Ill, c. 1200

48. Graffiti Figures, Bes and Kinnor, 1st Millennium 49. Table of Nations (Gen. 10): Ancient Near East 50. Table of Nations (Gen. 10): The Levant



The genesis of this little book goes back many years to a pleasant and wideranging conversation with a fellow Aberdonian (he, by academic post; I, by birth), namely, my long-standing friend, Professor I. Howard Marshall. And this was long before the present-day, rather frenetic conflict over the biblical writings and their authenticity (or otherwise) by so -called minimalists and maximalists, often high on rhetoric and counterclaims, if too often on precious little else. During that conversation long ago, we had mused on the valuable role played by the late Prof. F. F. Bruce's redoubtable but graciously written little volume entitled Are the New Testament Documents neliable? which gave an eminently judicious assessment of its theme and has deservedly passed through many editions and reprintings. Out of which musings, Howard asked me, why doesn't someone do a like service in assessing the Old Testament, and in particular why not the undersigned? Ah, ! protested, but the task in each case is massively different. New Testament scholars need stray little beyond a single century (the first century A.D.), had only four main languages to deal with (Greek and Latin from Europe; Hebrew and Aramaic in Palestine), and but two basic cultures: Greco-Roman and Jewish. D oing equal justice to the Old Testament meant a minimum span of 1\vo thousand years overall (three thousand for full background), ability to draw upon documents in vast quantity and variety in some ten ancient Near Eastern languages, and a whole patchwork quilt of cultures. Be reasonable! But,! murmured, let's see what might be done eventually, if it seems at all possible. With which equivocation on my part, we parted; but still as good friends! Thereafter I opened a file in which to put notes toward any such project, and a few dusty sheets found their way into it . But after that the sheer pressure


of university teaching, superv isions, and other duties, and more immediate academ ic and publishing obligat ions, allowed little more than dust to accumulate on that file . Until now. In the last few years increasingly extreme views about the Old Testament writings have been trumpeted loudly and proclaimed ever more widely and stridently; in the service of these views, all manner of gross misinterpretations of original, firsthand documentary dat:l from the :lncient Near E:lst itself are now being shot forth in turn, to prop up these extreme stances on the Old Testament, regardless of the real facts of the case. Ideological claptrap has also interfered with the present-day situation. It has been said that "political correctness" has decreed a priori that the Old Testament writings are historically unreliable and of negligible value. Even if this judgment were proved correct, it is no business whatsoever of the politically correct to say so, merely as. ideology. Such matters can ol1ly be assessed by expert examination of the available facts, and not by the ignorant pronouncements of some species of neo -Nazi "thought police." [t has also been ru mored that, in turn, such things as h<'lrd facts, objective fact, and (<'Ibove <'Ill) absolute truth h<'lve been discarded by resort to the dict<'ltes of "post mod ernism." Absolute truth in any deep philosophical sense is not the concern of this book, <'Ind thus will not be discussed. But individu<'ll absolute truths in the shape of objective fact, "h<'l rd f<'lcts" thM exist independently of what any human being m<'ly choose or wish to think - these abound around us in their hundreds of thousands in everyday life, and (quite simply) cannot be gainsaid or wished away. Thus, outside of spaceships, etc ., anyone letting go of this book in normal condi tions will find that it will inevitably drop d ownward, to the table, floor, or whatever is below. [f engineers do not properly allow for the innate st rengths and properties of the materials they use, buildings and bridges collapse; planes may not fl y, and boats turn turtle. If archaeologists dig into sites with clear strata l:lid in succession one upon another, that will be their proper historical sequence. At this stage in knowledge, no doubt can persist that it is possible to learn and to translate from ancient languages into modern ones - from Egyptian hieroglyphs, or Babylonian cuneiform, or West Semitic inscriptions into plain English, French, German, or whatever. And so on, ad in fi nitum. How the ancients left things is how things are. The Great Pyramid stands fi rm at Giza in Egypt (as it has done for at least 4,500 years), totally regardless of whether I know about this, or approve of th is, or disapprove ofthis. The facts are wholly independent of me, my prejudices, or my knowledge, and of everyone else's. This itself is <'In absolute fact ofHfe, along with countless others. And so, we must firmly say to philosophical cranks (politically correct, postmodernist, or whatever else) - "Your fantasy <'Igend<'ls <'Ire irrelevant in <'Ind to the real world, both oftod<'lY and of all preceding time bck into remotest antiquity. Get real or (<'lIas!) get lost!"


The title of this book (011 tlTe Reliability of tlTe Old TestamelTf) yields the acronym OROT; my crit ics are free to repunctuate this as O! ROT! - if they so please! So, we now proceed peacefully and rationally to deal wit h the real world, both ancient and modern . Before doing so, my warmest thanks go to my stalwart colleague, Professor Alan R. Millard, for taking time to read critically through the text of this book (all remaining errors, of course, remain mine) - and to my patient publishers for accepting this work, to share it with a wider publ ic.

September 2 0 01




Anchor Bible D. N. Freedman ct aI., cds., The A'lclJOT Bible Dictionury [VI (New York: Doubleday, 1992)

AcOr AiO (and Bcihefk)
Aha rOlli, LB

AnhuQ/ogi,clrc Berichle uus Jem Yemen Acta orientalia Archil' Jiir Orientforsclwng (and supplements) Y. AharOlli, The Lalld of the Bible: A His/orical Geography,
2nd revised edition, cd. by A. E Ibilley (Lo ndon: Burns & Oates, 1979 ) See Edel,AHK



American !oumal of Archaeology American jorlrlwl of Semitic Lang/wges alld Uleral'~res Set"! Mazar, ALB J, and Stern, ALB II J. B. Pritchard, cd., Anc;CII/ Ncar Eaj/em TexiS Relating /0 the Old Testament (Princeton : Princeton Unive rsity Press,
1950; 2nd ed., 1955, 3rd ed., 1969)


Allfs/ieg Imd Niedergung der romiscilcn IYelt Anatolian Studies

Alter Orient und Al1es Testament American Oriental Society American Oriental Society Translation Series /. H. Breasted, Alldcnt Records of Egypt I-V (Q licago: Unive rsity of Chicago PreSS, 1906-7) See Grayson, ARJ Arcilil'es Royalcs de Mari, '{exlcs (Trailucliolls) ( PariS: Imprimerie National<.', I-XXI, 1950-83; editions Recherche sur les Civilisations, XXII-XXVI!I, 1983-98 [continuing]) Assyriological Studies, Oriental lnstitule, Chicago; conlinuing





Abbreviati011S ASAE ASOR AU5BR Avigad and Sass, CWSS Annales du Service des Alltil/uifeS de I'Egypfe American Schools of Oriental Research Australian Biblical Rel'iew N. Al'igad and B. Sass, Corpus of lVesl Semitic Stamp Seals (jerusalem: Israel Academy, Israel Exploration Society, and Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University, 1997) Biblical Arclweologist. Continuation is now NEA Br.lletin of tire A ustralian Centre of Egyptology, Sydney Biblical Arclweology Rel'iew Rr.lfetin of the Ameriwn Schools of Oriemall~esearch A. Biran e\ ai, cds., Biblical Archaeology foday (198S ), 1990 (and supplemen t 1990) (Jerusalem: IES, 1985, 1993, 1993) Bonner bibliscbe Beitr:lge Biblica Biblica et orientaJia BibliO/hew Orientalis Bible Rel'iew See ARE Bib/iothew Sacra Br./Ietin on Sumerian AgrimltlHe Bu/letin de la Societe Fmllfaise d'Egyptologie L J. Gelb, o::t a!. ( and successors), Tile Assyrian Dictionary 126, A-Z (Chicago and Gluckstadt: Orio::ntal Institute, Unil'ersity of Chicago, and (fo rmerly) Augustin Verlag, 195 6. ) Various editors, Tire Cambridge Allcieu/ Hi,tory lit- IV, 2l1d ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970-88) Callrolic Biblical Quarlerly Cll rOnil/ue d'EgYPle Cawlogue generale du Musti du Caire, series J. D. Hawkins, GJrpus of Hieroglyplric tllwirw III>criptiolJS I (Berlin : de Gruyter, 2000), and H. (ambel, II (1999) W. W. Hallo and K. L Younger, cds., file CO/IUxl of Scripture 1-111 (Leiden: Brill, 1997, 2000, 2002) coregency Compus-relldr.s de l'AcadhJlie des Illscriptio/Is el Belleslellres Calrier(s) de Recherclle5 de 1'/115Iil1<1 de Papyrologie et d'gyp/ologie de Lille (a) contempory of/with. A. Herdner, ed., Corpus des fubletle.~ I'll cuneiforms alphaMtil/ut'S dfcouvertcsa a Ras Shamra-Ugarit de 1929 rl 1939,1 vols. ( Paris: Imprimerie Nationale and P. Geutli ner, 1963) See Avigad and Sass, CWSS


RASOR BAT 1985, 1990

BBB Bib BibOr BiOr

Breasted, ARE RSac BSAg BSFE CAD



CGC (+ number ) CHLlI-II


" CRAIBt (+ dale)







Dever, RADBR Dever, Wllal . WIlen . .. ? EA (+ number) EB Ebib Edel, AHK [- [I

K. A. Kitchen, Documelllation for AI/cielll Arabia I -I [ (Liverpool: University Press, 1994, 1000) P. Bienkowski and A. R. Mil[ard, eds., Dictionary of IIII' Ancient Near Eilst (London: British Museum Press, 1000) K. van der Toorn, B. Becking, and P. W. van der Horst, cds., Dictionary of Deities and DemO/IS in Ihe Bible (Lciden: Brill,



W. G. Dever, Recent Archaeological Discoveries and Biblical Reseilfch (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1990) W. G. Dever, W/lat Did the Biblical WriteTS Know and W/,ell Did They Know II? (G rand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001) E[-Amarna letters, by number Early Bron~.c Age Etudes bibliques E. Edcl, Die ugyptisch-hclhitisclle Korrcspolldenz aus Boghazkiji ill babylonischer Imd hctllilischer Spraelle I-II (Opladen: West-deutscher Verlag, 1994) Egypt Exploration Society (formerly f:.gypt Exploration Fund ), London Eref"" Isrild EVilllgdical Quarterly aditions Recherche sur les Civilisations, Paris Fondation t:gyptologique Reine t lisabeth, Brussels Florill'gium Milriamml, Iff (Mcmoires de N.A.B.U. Paris: SEPOA, 1992ff., continuing) A. H. Millard, J. K. Hoffmeier, and D. \V. Baker, cds., Filirll, Tradition, and History ( Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns,
1994 )

Grayson, ARI Grayson, RiMA 1-3 ['Iess et aI., Oath

COl/i"ger Miszc//en
A. K. Grayson, Ancien! Records of Assyriil 1-2 (Wiesbaden: 1 larrassowitz, 1972, 1976)

Hoch, SWET



See under RIMA R. S. Hess, P. E. Sattertlnvaite, and G. J. Wenham, cds., He Swore an Oath: Biblical Themes from CCllesis 12--50 (Cambridge: Tyndale House, 1993; Carlisle: Paternoster; and Grand Rapids: Baker, 199-1 ) /. E. Hoch, Semitic Words ill Egyptiilll Texts of thr. New Kingdom alld Tfrird {nlermetliate Period (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994) Harl'tlrd Tllcological RfI'icw Hebrew Ullioll CoUege Annual {srael f:xploraliolJ lOUT/iii! Israel Exploration Society, krusalem [nstitut Fral1~ais d'Archcologie Orientale du Caire, Cairo lsme! Orienta! Studie,

Abbreviati011S lSIF



It S. Hess and D. 'J: Tsumu ra, cds" I SWdied InscriptiollS from b40re Ille Flood, Allcielll Near Easlern, Literary, and Lillguislic Approaches 10 Gellesis J- l1 (Winona Lake, Ind .: Eisenbrauns, 1994) ]oMnal of the Alleielll Ncar Eastern Sociely, Columbia University
Journal Joumal Journal JOMnal of Ihe Ameriwn Orinltal Sociely of the Ameriwn Research Cenler in Egypl of Biblical !.iteralure of Cuneiform Swdies JOl~rnal of Egyplian Arclweology Journal of Near Easlem Studies ]ollmal for Ille swdy of Ilw Old TeSlamell/


Journal for the Sl'lldy of the Old 'Iestament Series



Journal of Semitic Siudies ]Olmw/ of the Society for the Study of Egyptiall All/il/f.ities,


Journal of T/uological Sludies Journal of Ihe TralJSaCliolis of II,e Victoria IlIStitute (later: Faith & Tlwuglrt)

Kitchen, DAA 111

See under DAA l- lJ

Kitchen, RJ'Dt

K. A. Kitchen, Ranresside [lIscriptioIlS, 'frallslated Ulld

Allnotated, Translatiolls, I-IV (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers), 1993-2003, and continuing K. A. Kitchen, Ramesside [meripliolls, TrlllJslated and Annotated, Notes and Comments, 1111 (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers), 1993.203, and continuing K. A. Kitchen, Th e Tllird /l1Iermediate Period in Egypl ( lJOO 650 Be) (Warminster: Aris & Phillips, 1973; 2nd ed" 1986; rev. 2nd cd., 1996) K. A. Kitchen, Ramesside [meripliolls IVIII (Oxford: Blackwell's, 1969 -90) M. Dietrich, O. Loretz, and J. Sanmartin, cds., The Cuneiform Alphabetic Texts from Uguril, Ras Ibn Hani lind Other Places ( KTU, 2nd enlarged edition ), ALASI' 8 (Munster: Ugarit-Verlag, 1995) KeilschriflUrkurideli aus Bogltaz-koi. I-LX ( Berlin : Staatliche Muscen zu Berlin . then Akademie Verlag, 192/-1990 )

Kitchen, RITANC

Kitchen, TIlird /tIt. Pd.





Litteratures anciennes dll proche-orient ( Paris: Les editions du Cerr, 1967ff. ), continuing See llnder Nlaroni, LB Late Brom.f Age Loeb Classical Library


Luckenbill, ARAB
MARl Malar, ALB I

W. Heick, E. Otto, an d W. Weste ndorf, cds., Lexikoll der AgyplOlogie I-V II (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1972-91) D. O. Luckenbill, Ar/(:ienl Records of Assyria ,HId Bal,y/ollia i[I (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1926-27) Mari, Allllales de Uecherches lmerdisciplinaires A. Mazar, Archaeology of /llC Land of fhe Bib/c, 10,000-586
B .C.E.


MfD MMA Much iki, Egypliall PN

(New York: Doubleday, 1990). Cf. Stern, ALB [] Middle Bronze Age Millcilrmgnl der Deu /schell Oricllt-Gesellschaft

Millci/Hngen des [lIslir,m fur Oriell/forselllmg

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Y. Muchiki, Egypliull Proper Names and Loanwords ill Norlh -West Semitic, SBLDS 173 (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 1999 ) D. R. w. Wood et aI., cds., New Bible DictiolJluy, 3rd cd. (Leicester and Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsi ty Press, 1996) Near Eastern Arclweology, conti nu es BA E. Stern et aI., cds., Th e New Eucyclopedia of Archaeological Excavatio/iS in the Holy Land 1-4 (Jerusalem: IES; New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993)

NEAf-IL 1-4


Ncar East Arc/lileologica/ Society Bulletin I. /. Gelb, P. M. Purves, and A. A. Macrae, Nuzi Personal Names (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1943)
Orbis Biblicus et Orkntal is Ostracon Deir el-Medina (a nd number)





Orielltaiistisc/le Literatur.witlmg Oudlleidkulldige Me/ledclingen uit het Rijbmuscum \'all Oudlleden Ie Lcidell Orientalia OriellS Allliquus, Rome Oudtestamcnl'iscile Studiell
Oxford University Press (London , Oxford, and New York ) political correctness - a curTent crank fad Palestine Exploratio n Fund, London



Paleslille Exp/oralioYJ Quarlcrly

B. Por ter, R. L. B. Moss, E. Burney,

J. Malek, ed s.,

Topographical BibliograpllY of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Reliefs & Paintillg" Etc., I-VIII (Oxford: Clarendon,
then Gr iffith Institute), 1St edition, 1927-19;1, and 2nd, 1960in progress /. Nougayrol and C. Virolleaud, eds., Le Palm's Royal d'Vgaritll-VI (Paris: lmprimerie NationalefKlincksieck, 1955 -70)




Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies Revue Archfologique


Ranke, KMAV

Rdt REg RenzlRollig I-III




RIME 1-4

ROtll, Law Collections RSOXll


ReVIle d'assyriologie et d'archeologie orientale H. Ranke, Keilschriftliclles Material zur altiigyptischell VokalisatiOIl, Aus dem Anhang zu den Abhandlungen der Konigl. Preuss. Akademic de r Wissenschaften vom Jahre 1910 ( Berlin: Verlag der Kon ig!. Akadelllie der Wis5enschaften, 19\0) Revue Biblique Reme d'tgyptologie RevIle d'egyptologique J. Renz and W. IWlIig, Handbuch der althebriiischen Epigraphik I, lilt, III (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesdlschaft,1995) Repertoire Gcographique des rextes CunCiformes, Ikihefte Will Tiibinger Atlas des Vorderen Orients, Reihe B (Geschichte ) (Wiesbaden: L. Reichert ) Rel1~e de /'Histoire des Religio/Is A. K. Grayson, Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia, Assyriall Periods: I: Assyria)1 Rulers of the nird alld Second Millermia Be (to 1115 Be) (1987); 2: Assyrian Rulers of t/le Early First Millelillium Be, f (1114-859 BC) (1991); 3: Assyrian Ru/ers of the Ea rly First Millennium BC, If (858-745 BC) (1996). All published in Toronto by Un iversity Press G. Frame, Roya/lnscriptions of Mesopotamia, BabylO/Jian Periods: 2: Rulers of Babylonia from Ih e Second DYllasty of !sill to Ihe flld of Assyrian Domillatioll (1l57-612 BC) Cloronto: Unive rsity Press, 1995 ) D. R. Frayne, Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia, Early Periods: J: Pre-Sargonie Period (2700-2350 Be) (2001); 2: Sargollic and Giltian Periods (2334-2113 BC) (1993) ; 311: Gw/ea and His DYllasty (by D. O. Edzard) (1997); 31z: Ur III Period (2112 -2004 /jC) (1997); 4: Old BabylonialJ Period (2003 -1595 BC) (1990) . Toronto: University Press E. Ebeling and B. Meissner, followed by others, now D. O. Edzard, cds., Real/exikOIl der Assyriologie I-IX (and continuing) (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1930-199912000-) M ..J: Roth, Law Col/eeliO/IS from Mesopotamia and Asia Minor (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1995) D. Pardee, Ras Slwmra~Ougarit XII/t-2, Les Tr.xtcs Ritlulles (Paris: ERC, 2000) State Archives of Assyria (series) State Archives of Assyria, Studies, series Studien zu r Altiigyptischen Kultur Studies in Ancient Orienta! Civilization Sociely of Biblical Literature SBL Dissertation Series




Suppiemelll au Dictionnaire du Bible 1- (in progress) (Paris,

1928 to present)

Stud; Epigraplli e Linguistiei, sui Vicino Oriente Anrico Semi/ica


Studit'-s on Ihe History and Archaeology of Jordan SWlldinul'iuli !oumal of the Old Testament
School of Oriental and African Studies, London


den Bogazkoy-'[exten (series)

TA ladmor, TP III

Th/P II'

E. Stern , Arclweology of the Lllnd of Illf Bible, II, Tile Assyrian, Ba/Jy/onian, and Pcrsilln Periods, 732-332 IKE (New York: Doubleday, 2001). cr. Malar, ALB I Tel Aviv 1-1. Tadmor, nll~ II/scriptions of Tig/mll-pileser 111 King of Assyria (Jerusalem : Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1994) See above, Kitchen, Third Inl. PD.
temp.; i.e., in the time of .


71le%gische QuaTla/scilrifl

J. C. L. Gibson, Textbook of Syriall Sf'lJIilic Inscriptions t-}

(Oxford: our, 1971, 1975, 1982) O. Kaiser, et aI., cds., Texte ilUS deT Umwelt des Alten TestillJletlts, [-[[I and Erg:lnzungs[icfcrung (GUters[oh: Gtttcrsloher Verlags h aus, 1982-20(1)






TYlulille Bulletin Ugil ri t -Forsell ungell University Press C. H. Gordon, Ugar;t;c Textbook 1-][[ (Rome: Pontifical
Biblical Institulc, 19(5)

Vetus Tcs/(JmentuIII
Vetus icstamenlum , Supplements



WestmitJstcr The%giCiJ/ jOllma/ Zeitsclrrift fur Assyri%gie Zeitsclrrift Jiir Altlu:bTiiistik Zeitselrrift JiiT Aegyptisc/re Sprilelre Ulld Alterlumskrmde Zeitscllrift Jiir die Ail1estillJlentlicl!e WissemclJiljt ZeilselrTift deT DeuHchen MOTgen{iilJdiscl!m Gesdlselwft ZeilselrTift des Deutschen Pilliistinil- VereillS



First Things First -

What's in Question?

Heat without light in biblical matters is less help than light without heat. "On the reliability of the Old Testament." The two terms of this title deserve to be defined fo r the purpose of our inquest. For practical purposes the second element, the Old Testament, is readily defined as the particular group of books written in Hebrew (with a few Aramaic passages) that form at one and the same time the basic canon of the Hebrew Bible, or "Tanak" of the Jewish community (Torah, Nebi'iJlJ, KetlrubiJlJ, "Law, Prophets, Writings"), and the basic "Old Testament" (or "former covenant") of most Christian groups, who add to it (to form their fuller Bible) the briefer group of writ ings of the Greek New Testament (or "new covenant"), not studied in this book. Anyone who opens and reads the books of the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament, will find the essence of a fairly continuous story, from the world's beginnings and earliest humanity down briefiy to a man, Abra(ha)m, founding "patriarch," from whose descendants there came a family, then a group of clans under the name Israel. He had moved from Mesopotamia (now Iraq) via north Syria into Palestine or Canaan, we are told; and his grandson and family came down to Egypt, staying there for generations, until (under a pharaoh's oppression) they escaped to Sinai, had a covenant and laws with their deity as t heir ruler, and moved on via what is now Transjordan back into Canaan. A checkered phase of settlement culminated in a local monarchy; David and Solomon are reputed to have subdued their neighbors, holding a brief "empire" (tenth century B.C .), until this was lost and the realm split into two rival petty kingdoms of Israel (in the north) and Judah (in the south). These lasted until Assyria destroyed Israel by 722 and Neo- Babylon destroyed Judah by 586, with much of their populations exiled into Mesopotamia. When Persia took over Babylon, then some of the captive Judeans (henceforth termed "Jews") were al-


lowed back to Palestine to renew their small community there during the fift h century, while others stayed on in both Babylonia and Egypt. The library of writings that contains this narrative thread also includes versions of the laws and covenant reputedly enacted at Mount Sinai, and renewals in Moab and Ca~ naan. To which must be added the writings in the names of various spokesmen or "prophets" who sought to call their people back to loyalty to their own god YHWH; the Psalms, or Hebrew hymns and prayers; and various forms of"wisdom writing," whether instructional or discussive . That sums up baldly the basic narrative that runs through the Hebrew Bible, and other features included with it. Broadly, from Abram the patriarch down to such as Ezra and Nehemiah who guided the Jerusalem community in the fifth century, as given, the entire history (if such it be) does not precede circa 2000 B.C., running down to circa 400 B.C. Those who most decidedly dismiss this whole story point to the date of our earliest discovered MSS of its texts, namely, the Dead Sea Scrolls of the second century B.C. onward. They would take the most minimal view, that the biblical books were originally com posed just before the time of the Dead Sea Scrolls, i.e ., in the fourth/third cen turies B.C . (end of Persian, into Hellenistic, times). With that late date they would couple an ultralow view of the rea lit y of that history, dismissing virtually the whole of it as pure fiction, as an attempt by the puny Jewish community in Pillestine to write themselves an imaginary past liITge-, as a form of national propaganda. After aJl, others were doing th is then. In the third century B.C. the Egypt ian priest Manetho produced his Aegyptiaka, or history of Egypt, probably under Ptolemy 11,1 and by then so also did 13erossus, priest of Marduk at Babylon, his Clwldaika, for his master, the Seleucid king Antiochus J.2 Comparison with firsthand sources shows that these two writers could draw upon authentic local records and trad itions in each case. So it is in principle possible to suggest that a group of early Hellenistic Jews tried to perform a similar service for their community by composing the books we now know as the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible,) The difference is, however, twofold . Factually, the Old Testament books were written in Hebrew - for their own community - right from the start, and were only translated into Greek (the Septuagint) afterward, and again primarily for their own community more than for Greek kings. Also, while Manetho ilnd Berossus drew upon iluthentic history and sources, this ilctivity is den ied to the Jewish writers of the Old Testament. So, two questions here arise. (I) Were the Old Testament books all composed within circa 400 - 200 B.C.? And (2) are they virtu ally pure fiction of that time, with few or no roots in the real history of the Near East during circa 2000 - 400 B.C.? SO our study on reliability of the Old Testament writings will deal with

First Thi11gs First -

What's in Question?

them in this light. Have they any cla im whatsoever to present to us genuine information from within ZOOO-400? And were they originated (as we have them) entirely within, say, 400-Z00? [n this little book we are dealing with matters of history, literature, culture, lIot with theology, doctrine, or dogma . My readers must go elsewhere if that is their sole interest. So "reliability"here is a quest into finding out what may be authentic (or otherwise) in the content and formats of the books of the Hebrew Bible. Are they purely fiction, containing noth ing of historical value, or of major historical content and value, or a fictional matrix with a few historical nuggets embedded? Merely sitting back in a comfy armchair just wondering or specu lating about the matter will achieve us nothing. Merely proclaiming one's personal convictions for any of the three options just mentioned (all, nothing, or some thing historical) simply out of personal belief or agenda, and not from firm evidence on the question, is also a tota l waste of time. So, what kind of test or touchstone may we apply to indicate clearly the reliability or otherwise of Old Testament writers? The answer is in principle very simple, but in practice clumsy and cumbrous. We need to go back to antiquity itself, to go back to 400 B.C., to fly back through the long centuries, "the corridors of time" - to 500 B.C., 700 B.C., 1000 B.C., 1300 B.C., 1800 B.C., 2000 B.C., 3000 B.C., or even beyond - as far as it takes, to seek out what evidence may aid ou r quest. All very fine, but we have no H. G. Wells "time machine" as imagined over a century ago. We cannot move lazily across from our armcha ir into the plush, cushioned seat of the Victorian visionary equivalent of a "flying bedstead," set the dial to 500 B.C. or 1000 B.C. or 1800 B.C., and just pull a lever and go flying back in time! No. Today we have other means> much clumsier and more laborious, but quite effective so far as they go. In the last two hundred years, and with ever more refined techniques in the last fifty years, people have learned to dig systematically in the long-abandoned ruins and mounds that litter the modern Near East, and (digging downward) to reach back ever deeper into past time. 4 A Turkish fort (temp. Elisabeth I) might reuse a Byzantine church on the ruins of a Roman temple, its foundations dug into the sllccessive levels of (say) Syr ian temples of the Iron Age (with an Assyrian stela?), then back to Bronze Age shrines (with Egyptian New Kingdom monuments?), on through the early second (Middle Bronze cuneiform tablets?) and third millennia B.C., and back to full prehistory at the bottom of an ever-more -limited pit . And there would be parallel levels and finds in the surrounding mound, for local ancient palace, houses, and workplaces. But why be content with a theoretical example? In Syria , Mari yielded zo,ooo tablets of the eighteenth century B. C., which are still in the course of publication; Ebla, Ugarit, and Emar have yielded more be


sides . To the north, the Hitt ite archives as published so far fill over one hun dred volumes of cuneiform copies.5 From Mesopotamia, nmk upon nmk of Sumerian, Babylonian, and Assyri:ln t:lblets fill the shelves of the world's m:ljor museums. Egypt offers acres of tomb and temple walls, :lnd a myri:ld of objects inscribed in her hieroglyphic script. And West Semitic inscriptions continue to turn up in the whole of the Levant. These we know about; but a myriad other untouched mounds still conceal these :lnd other materi:l] sources of data tot:llly unknown to us, and wholly unpredict:lble in detail. Much has been destroyed beyond recall :lcross the centuries; this we shall never recover, and never learn of its significance. So, much l:lbor is involved in recovering as reliably as possible (including technological procedures) original documents and other remains accessible to us, so far as we have power and resources to investigate a fraction of them. But these are authentic sources, real touchstones which (once dug up) calHlOt be reversed or hidden away again. The one caveat is that they be rightly understood and interpreted; which is not impossible, most of the time. Therefore, in the follow ing chapters we will go back both to the writings of the Old Testament and to the very v:lried data that h:lve so far been recovered from the world in which those writings were born, whether early or late. Then the two groups of sources can be confronted with one another, to see what may be found. In doing th is, it is important to note that two kinds of evidence will play their part: explicit/direct :lnd implicit/indirect. Both are valid, a fact not yet su fficiently recognized outside the various :lnd highly specialized Near Eastern disciplines of Egyptology, Nubiology, Assyriology/Sumerology, Hittitology, Syro-Palestinian archaeology, early Iranology, Old Arabian epigraphy and archaeology, :lnd the rest. Explicit or direct evidence is t he obvious sort that everyone likes to have. A mention of King Hezekiah of Judah in the annals of King Sennacherib of Assyria, or a state seal -impression ("bulla") of King Hezekiah or Ahaz or J(eh)otham - these are plain and obvious indications of date, historical role, etc. But implicit or indirect evidence can be equ:llly powerful when used aright. Thus in two thousand years ancient Near Eastern treaties passed through six different time phases, each with its own format of treaty or covenant; there can be no confusion (e.g.) of a treaty from the first phase with one of the third phase, or of either with one from the fifth or sixth phases, or these with each other. Based on over ninety documents, the sequence is consistent, reliable, and securely dated. Within this fixed sequence biblical covenants and treaties equally find their proper places, just like all the others; anomalous exceptions cannot be allowed. And so on. For the purpose of our inquest, the basic Old Testament "story" can be

First Thi11gs First -

What's in Question?

divided conveniently into seven segments, representing its traditional sequence, without prejudice as to its historicity or otherwise. Table

Th e Seven Segments of Traditional Biblical "History"

Prillleval PrOIOHistory


.Egyptian Sojo urn an d Exodus

Settlement Ca naan


United Monarchy

Divided Monarchy

Exile and Return

But we shall not follow this sequence in numerical order. Instead we shall go to the two most recent "periods" (6 and 7), first to 6, the divided monarchy, which is the period during which the Old Testament accounts are the most exposed, so to speak, to the maximum glare of publicity from external, nO]1biblical sources, during a period (ca. 930-580 B.C.) of the maximum availability of such evidence to set against the Old Testament data . Then, after tidying up the "tail end," period 7, we can go back through those long corridors oftime (5 back to I) to consider the case for ever more remote periods in the record, both ancient Near Eastern and biblical, and eventually sum up the inquest.


"In Medias Res" - the Era of the Hebrew Kingdoms

In 1 and 1 Kings and 1 Chronicles we find what is offered as concise annals of the two Hebrew kingdoms, Israel and Judah, that crystallized out of the kingdom of Solomon after his death. In those books we have mention of twenty kings of Is rael and twenty kings and a queen regnant in Judah, and also of foreign rulers given as their contemporaries - all in a given sequence. It will be convenient to set out all these people in list form in Table 2 on page 8. A few notes on this table. Regnal years serve to distinguish between reigns of average length (ca . sixteen years) or over and reigns brief or only fleeting. A string of three asterisks indicates a break between "dynasties" in Israel. "AramD"stands for (the kingdom of) Aram of Damascus. Also, names in boJd are for kings involved in external, nonbiblical sources, while "LR" stands for "local (i.e., Hebrew) record" and "possible local record," as will become clear below. We shall next proceed by the following steps: ]. To rev iew the foreign kings mentioned in Kings, Chronicles, and allied sources, in terms of their mention in external records. 2. To review, conversely, mentions of Israelite and Judean kings in such external, foreign sources. 3. To rev iew the "local records" (LR) in Hebrew, from Palestine itself, so far as they go. 4. To review concisely the sequences of rulers as given in both the external and biblical sources, and the range ofthe complex chronology of this period, in the Hebrew Bible and external sources.


Tabl e 2. Hebrew Kings and Contemporaries Given by the Bibli cal Sources
Jeroboam I 22 ye~rs

Shishak of Egypt I Kings 1l:40 Rehoboam 17 years Abijam 3 years Asa 4L years Benhadad (J) of Ar;unD L [(jngs 15:L8 (Zerah the Kushite 2 Chron . 14:9ff.) Shishak of Egypt LKings 14:25



(including rival Tibni first 6 years ) Ethbaal of Sidon 1 Kings L6:31 Benhadad (1111), AramD I Kings 20

Baasha 24 years Elah 2


Zirnri 7 d~ys Omri 12 years Ahab 22 years

lehoshaphat 2S yea rs

Mesh;1 of Moab 2 Kings 3

Ahaziah I 2 years J( eh)oram II L2 years Mcsha of Moab 2 Kings 3 Hazael, AramD 2 Kings 8:3

Jehoram i 8 years Ahaziah I year


i-Lu:ael, ArarnD 2 [(j ngs 8:28

Jehu 28 years Mcsha of Moab 2 Ki ngs 3 Hazael, AramD 2 Kings 10:32 Hazael, AramD 2 [(jugs 1):22 Benhadad (HIIII ), ArarnD 2 [(jngs 13:24-25 (LR ) Amaziah 29 years Azar iah/Uzziah 52 years Jotham 16 years Joash 40 yo;,Lrs i-Ial,ael, ArarnD 2 Kings 12:1 7-18 (including Queen Athaliah , first 6 years)

Jehoahaz L7 years Jeh oash 16 years Jeroboam II 41 years Zec hariah 6 rnonths Shallum 1 month Menahem 10 years

( t R)
Rezin, ArarnD 2 Kings 15:37 (LR )

Pulrriglath-pileser (III ) of Assyna 2 [(jngs L5:L9; LChron . 5:6, 26 Ahaz 16 years Rezi n, AralllD 2 Kings 16:5 (LR ) Tiglat.h-pilcscr (III ), Assyria 2 [(jngs 16:7, LO

(LR )

Pekahiah 2 years

"/11 Medias Res" Is rael Pekah 20 years Hoshea 9 years

the Era of the Hebrew Kingdoms


Hezekiah 29 years So of Egypt 2 Kings 17:4 ( LR)

Tiglath -pilescr (ill), Assyria 2 Kings 15:29 Shalmanescr (V) Assy ria 2 Kings 17 Shahnaneser (V) 2 Kings 18:9 (Sargon [ II ) Isa. 20; afte r Ahaz) Sennacherib, Assyr ia 2 Kings 18 :13ff. Taharqa, Egypt 2 Kings 19:9 Merodach- Balada n, Babylon 2 Kings 20 :12
(x yrs later: Esarhaddon, Assyria 2 Kings 19:37)

Pall of Sama ria

Manasse h 55 years Amon 2 years Josiah 31 years /ehoahaz 3 mon ths Jehoiakirn II years

(Assy rian king took IIIIll to Babylon 2 ebron . 3j:11 )

Nl"(ho II, Egvpt 2 KlIlgs 2):29 ( LR) NedlO II, Egyp t 2 Kings 2J:33ff. Nl"(ho II, Egy/" 2 Kings 23::nff. LR) Nebucbadrezzar II,

2 Kings 24 :1 Jehoiachin 3 months Nebuchadreuar II, Babylon 2 Kings 24 :1 later Evil-Merodach, Babylon 2 Kings 25:27 Zedekiah II yc~rs Hopbra of Egypt Jer44:30 Nebuchadreuar II, Babylon, 2 Ki l!gs 24:10-17; 25 (LR) Baalis king of Ammon Ocr. 40:14)

Full of Jerusalem


5. To review concisely the interlock of historical events, etc., that are attested in both the biblical and external sources. 6. To consider briefly the nature of the actual records we have to draw upon, both in the Bible and the nonbiblical sources.



(iJ Shishak of Egypt

In Hebrew Sliisliaq or SllUsltaq (marginal spelling) occurs as the name of a king of Egypt who harbored Jeroboam (rebel against Solomon) and invaded Canaan in the fifth year of Rehoboam king of Jud ah (I Kings 1\:40; 14:25) .1 This word corresponds very precisely with the name spelled in Egyptian inscriptions as Sit-sli -n-q or Sit-sh -q. This Libyan personal name is best rendered as Slioshe(lI}q in English transcript; it belonged to at least six kings of Egypt within the Twenty-SecondlTwenty-Third Dynasties that ruled that land within (at most) the 950-700 time period. 2 Of all these kings, Shoshenq Jl-Vl have no known link whatsoever with affairs in Palestine. In striking contrast, Shoshenq I, the founder of the TwentySecond Dynasty, has left us explicit records of a campaign into Palestine (triumph scenes; a long list of Palestinian place-names from the Negev to Galilee; stelae), including a stela at Megiddo. Beyond rational doubt, these Egyptian data give us direct evidence that links up with the event mentioned under Rehoboam in Kings and Chronicles (history and chronology, d. below, 4, 5), and Rehoboam's Shusliaq is Shoshe(n)q I, a very solidly attested ruler.

(ii ) Two Shy Characters - Zerah the Kushite and Benhadad 1/11 of Aram -Damascus
In 2 ehron. 14:9ff. we are told that one Zerah the Kushite (no rank given) came with "a myriad army" and 300 chariots (Kushites 1 = Nubiansl and Lubim 1 = Libyans ], 2 Chron. 16:8) aga inst the Judeans under King Asa. ) Zerah's name is neither Hebrew, Egyptian, nor (seemingly) Libyan, and may

"/11 Medias Res" -

the Era of the Hebrew Kingdoms

therefore be Nubian, as would befit a Kushite. Of him we possess no other record at present; not himself a king> h e could have been a king>s general. The combination of Libyan and Nubian troops suggests that his unstated starting point had been Egypt; the chronology (cf. 4. below) would set any such escapade late in the reign of Osorkon I. No pharaoh ever celebrates a defeat! So, if Osorkon had ever sent out a Zerah, with resulting defeat, /10 Egyptian source would ever report on sllch ;In incident, particularly publicly. The lack (to date) of external corrobor;ltion in such ;I c;lse is itself worth nothing, in terms of judging historicity. According to 1 Kings 1p8, the same Judean king Asa sought to buy an alliance with a Benhadad king of Aram in Damascus, while a Benhadad of AramDamascus was an opponent of Ahab king oflsTael (1 Kings 20).4 From the division of the Hebrew kingdom, on figures given in Kings, Asa's reign was for some forty years, from twenty years after the split, while Ahab's began nearly sixty years after that event, lasting almost twenty years beyond Asa's time. Thus, either one or two Benhadads may have reigned in Damascus, contemporary with Asa and Ahab; opinion has always been divided over this point. At present we have no clear external evidence for this king(s) (be it one or two kings> reo spectively). This is hardly surprising for two very simple reasons. First, modern DamaSCUS entirely overlies t he site of the ancient cit y, with many rebuildings and much development through twenty-seven centuries since the demise of its Aramean kingdom . Virtually nothing, consequently, has so far been recovered at Damascus from those times. The only external evidence for kings of AramDamascus comes exclusively from elsewhere. (See on Hazael and lknhadad III below.) Second, before 853 there are no Assyrian war records that name any rulers from Damascus being in the Levant - simply because the mighty Assyrian war machine had not reached so far before 853! Thus we calJlJOt expect any Assyrian mentions of any Levantine rulers (biblical or otherwise!) before 853 if the Assyrians had had no wars or other dealings with them. The Hebrew Bellhadad is simply the Hebrew equivalent of Aramaic Biror Bar-hadad, each meaning "son of (the god) Hadad." Bar-hadad is a genuine Aramean royal name, including at Damascus (see below on 13enhadad Ill). From 853 to 845 the war records of Shalmaneser III of Assyr ia do report on a King Hadad-idri at Damascus. This, it is commonly conceded, is simply an alternative name for Bar-hadad (Benhadad), or else it represents a king who ruled between the Benhadad of King Ahab's time (ca. 860) and a possible shortlived 13enhadad reigning from about 844 until ousted by Hazael by 841, as the Assyrian texts show. Thus the total poverty in documents from Damascus and the lack of As-



syria n penetration (with consequent mentions of kings) into Syria and southward are the basic reasons for lack of attestations of these local kings. Nonexistence of the rulers themselves cannot be alleged without tangible reasons (o f which there are none) . This is because of another example. If Assyrian mentions are the sine qua non (the absolute criterion) for a king's existence, then Egypt and her kings could not have existed before the specific naming of (U)shilkann i, Sh apata ka, and Ta(ha) rqa in 716- 6791 But of course, as in the case of Sh ishaq (above), we have a relative abundance of monuments from many sites in the large land of Egypt attesting her existence and kings for millennia before the Neo-Assyrian kings ever got there! The on-the-ground situation is radically different from that in Syria - Palestine, particularly in d rastically overbuilt sites such as Damascus and Jerusalem . There is one piece of supposed evidence for 13enhadad [/II of Aram Damascus that needs to be plainly eliminated - the so-called Melqart Stela of a King l3ar-hadad, found just north of Aleppo.) With great boldness Albright had read the da maged text as belonging to a "Bar-hadad, son of [Tabrimmon, son of Hezion)' ki ng of Ara m," to be identified with the Benhadad and ancestors of 1 Kings IpS. Thus he assumed that Aram -Damascus was intended as this king's realm . But the square-bracketed part of th e text (in the second of five lines) is so heav ily damaged as to be virtually illegible, and thus there are now almost as ma ny different readings for t his Bar-hadad's ancestor(s) as there are scholars who attempt it! And "Aram" on its own can stand for other Aramean kingdoms besides Damascus - e.g., loba or Arpad also. If, as has been more recently suggested, Bar-hadad's fathe r was an 'Atar-humki or 'Atar-sumki, then we may here have a Bar-hadad king of Arpad, to be set (if'Atar-sumki be read) between his father 'Atar-sumki and his possible younger brother Mati-el . This would at one stroke settle t his l3ar-hadad's historical role and identity, and eliminate him from the line in Aram - Damascus, and from our immediate inquiries.

(iii) Ethbaa1!Ittobaal I of Tyre and Sidon -

Not Fo rgetting Jezebel!

According to 1 Kings 16:)1, King Ahab of Israel took lezebel to be his queen, that colorful lady being daughter of"Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians." Again, just like Damascus, Aleppo, or Jerusalem, the towns ofTyre and Sidon have been repeatedly turned over and rebuilt across many centuries, with older stone records being recycled and defaced, to our permanent loss. So it is little surprise that we so fa r have not a single inscr iption from the sites of these two cit ies from the

"/11 Medias Res" -

the Era of the Hebrew Kingdoms

sixth century B.C. and earlier - virtually only from sarcophagi, preserved by having been buried in tombs from that very late date onward . However, outside the Bible there is one other written source of some value for the Phoenician kings. This is the annotated Tyrian king list by Menander of Ephesus, cited and summarized by Josephus in his Against Apion 1.116-26.6 Th is gives a series of eight kings, from Abibaal ( father of Hiram I, named as contemporary of Solomon) down to one Phelles, inclusive. Then comes an Ittobaal (I), or Ithobalos in Greek, and a Balezoros, originally succeeded by (and then confused with) a second Baal- ma(n)zer/ named also in texts of Shalmaneser Ill, a contemporary of Ahab of Israel. This would make Ithobalos (lttobaal I) an older contemporary of Ahab, and thus most likely the Ethbaal whose daughter jezebel was married off to Ahab. Thus on this limited but valuable evidence, Ethbaal is no phantom. And lezebel? A Phoenician-style seal, we]! known, bears just the name Yzbl, "Jezebel," below Egyptian -style devices (recumbent winged sphinx, winged disc with uraeus-serpents, falcon of Horus - all royal symbols in Egypt), and is datable on its general style to the overall period of the late ninth to early eight h centuries .8 (See fig . 8A .) This need not necessarily have belonged to the infamous Jezebel, Ahab's wife, but it certainly attests the name (in a non- Israelite spelling) in a Phoenician-style context at her general period . And not too many women had t heir own seals in the anc ient Levant. Thus there is no proof at all that this little seal stone has strayed from (say) the Iron Age palace ruins of Samaria; but attribution to the infamolls lezebel is by no means impossible eit her.

(iv) Mesha, the "Sheep Master" King of Moab

Here we briefl y turn to what was a sensational find back in 1868. Second Kings 3 purports to give an account of conflict between Omri and Ahab's dynasty in Israel and one Mesha, king of Moab, whose principal wealth was in sheep. In 1868 a basalt stela was fOllnd at Dhiban (D ibon) in Transjordan, which bears a victory and building inscription and also mentions conflicts with the dynasty of Omri of Israel. 9 Thus there can be no doubt as to the reality of Mesha king of Moab, or of the state of conflict between the two countries involved.




0 ) The Dynasty of Omri and Jehu, and the Arameans (a) Hazael
Enemy of Israel (cf. 2 Kings 8:3, 28; 10:32; 12:17 -18; 13:22), this ruler is known from ivory fragments found at Arslan Tash (ancient Hadatu; fig . 813) in north Syria, and another found at Nimrud (ancient Ca[ah) in Assyria proper, and from two bronze horse blinkers foun d at Eretria and Samos in faraway Greece.1O Inscriptions on these all na m e Hazael, as the dedicator's "lord" (Aram . man). Under Adad -nirari III, Hazael may be the king known by his epithet Mari, "Lo rd," given him by his subjects, but this may in fact be 13enhadad III (cf. below). Hazael recurs as father of 13ar-hadad ([II) on the stela of Zakkur, king of Hamath and Hatarikka , his immediate neighbor to the north. He was, in fact, one of t he most formidable of the Aramean kings of Damascus, and later Assyrian kings such as Tiglath -pileser III even called that kingdom Bit-Hazail, "House of Hazae!," alongside Bit-Khwllri, "House of Omr i," for [srael. l1

(b) Betlhadad ( 111) Son of Hazael

He was supposed ly a less successful king, cited in 2 Kings 13:24-25. He is attested externally on the stela ofZakkur of Hamath just mentioned. He may well be the king of Aram-Damascus cited by the epithet Mari, "Lord" (given him by his subjects) . He was defeated by Adad-nirari Ill, if Hazael is not thus intended . 12

(c) Rezin/ Rakhianu of Damascus

In 2 Kings 15:37 and 16:5, it is said that Rezin king of Damascus and Pekah of [srael warred against Judah. Rezin was the last Aramean ruler at Damascus, suppressed by Tiglath-pileser II ! in 732 (2 Kings 16:9); in cuneiform (for phonetic reasons) he appears as Rakhianu. I)

(ii ) Transjordanian Kings

Two seals attest l3aalis king of Ammon, mentioned in Jer. 40 :14.14

"/11 Medias Res" -

the Era of the Hebrew Kingdoms

(iii ) The Assy ri an Wo lves and The ir Babylo ni an Neighbors a nd He irs All the following are, of course, well known, but their presence is a necessary part of the total pictllre, and the nature of their presence will be of some importance Tig[ath-pileser Ill, alias Pul (745-727), is the earliest Assyrian king named in Kings and Chronicles, and the third ruler of his name; also was known as Put for short in one cuneiform record as in the biblical ones. Records of his reign are extensive, if sometimes fragmentary.16 Shalmaneser V (727-722) is the Shalmaneser of 2 Kings 18:9, linked with the fall of Samaria. His quite short reign is attested in the cunei form record. 17 Sargon II (722-70S) is the king intended in Isa. 20 (as later than Ahaz of Judah), men tioning his officer, the tlIrtal1 (a rank well attested in Assyrian records). Of Sargon II we have extensive texts and monuments. IS The records of Sennacherib (70S-681) in cuneiform include the account of his Year 3 campaign to Palestine, wh ich links up with his dealings with Hexe kiah of Judah (2 Kings 18~19) . 19 Esarhaddon (681-669) is well known from Assyrian sources, besides 2 Kings 19:J7.20 Merodach-Baladan II (711-710,703) was an opportunist king in Babylon, well known from Assyria n records and in other documents, besides being mentioned with Hezekiah in 2 Kings 20:12f(.21 Nebuchadrezzar 11 of Babylon (60S-562) was the greatest king of the NeoBabylonian dynasty, who redeveloped Babylon, leaving lllany inscriptions (especially about buildings) .22 Evil -Merodach/Awel -Marduk of Babylon (S62-560) is mentioned in 2 Kings 25:27-28, regarding lehoiach in of Judah in exile; he is known from minor inscriptions of his own.2>

(iv) Last Links with Egypt

The name of King So is recorded only in 2 Kings 17:4. 24 It is not acceptable to try emending this clearly personal name into the place-name Sais, a town in the depths of the West Delta that played no role whatsoever in Near Eastern or biblical affairs. All Saite kings reigned from Memphis and used East Delta Tanis (Zoan) as their outlet to western Asia. Per dating (cf. 4. below), So falls into the time of the East Delta kings Iuput II and Osorkon IV. As the last certain king of the Twenty-Second Dyn asty, the latter reigned in Tanis and Bubas'5


tis, the dosest Egyptian sovereign to Palestine to whom Hoshea could have sent. (See fig . 8C) So is a perfectly feasible abbreviation for (O)so{ rkon) . Other royal names were thus abbreviated; cf. Shosh for Shoshenq, and the omission of the initial Wa from Wahibre in the Hebrew and Greek forms Hophra and Apries. Osorkon's own name was abbreviated both by occasional omission of the final 11 and (in Assyrian) by loss of initial vowel U>shilkanni). There is no valid excuse for taking So as anything other than Osorkon IV, in terms of our present knowledge. Tirhaqah/T<lharqa is a very well known pharaoh of the Nubian (Kushite) Twenty- Fifth Dynasty, reigning from 690 to 664. His presence in 2 Kings 19:9 and Isa . 37:9 was as lieutenant for the reigning Egypto-Nubian ruler Shebitku (Assyr. Shapataka), who ruled from either 706 or 702 to 690. [n his biblical occurrences Taharqa is accorded the title king simply because that title had been his and was universally used for ten years already by 681, when the texts of 2 Kings and Isaiah took their present shape (death of Sennacherib, 2 Kings 19:37; Isa.37:38) . 2~ It is the same as saying today (in 2003) that "Queen Elizabeth (II) was born in 1926"; she was, but only as Princess Elizabeth - which title would not immediately identify her to most people today. This kind of usage is universal (even used by Taharqa himselfl), and cannot be dismissed. Necho [I of Egypt (610-595) is the well-known second king of the TwentySixth Dynasty.26 Hophra/Apries/Wahibre of Egypt (589-570) is the known fourth king of the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty.27 Both the Hebrew and Greek forms of his name show abbreviatio n (as with So!) by omission of the first syllable, Wa .



(i) O m r i
In 1 Kings 16:21ff. Omri features as founder of a dynasty, being followed by his son Ahab, and the latter by two sons, Ahaziah I and I(eh)oram [I. For Omri the external sources are twofold: the mentio n of him and "his son" (= Ahab) by Mesha king of Moab on the latter's stela mentioned above,28 and his role as dynastic founder in the term used to denote Israel by the Assyrian kings

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the Era of the Hebrew Kingdoms

Shalmaneser III and T iglath-pileser Ill, namely, Bit-Klw1I1ri, or "House of Omri."29 It became fashionable in the first millennium B.C. to name kingdoms after prominent dynastic founders, and the Assyrian royal inscriptions are full of such names: Bit-Arnmana, Bit-Agusi, Bit-Adini, Bit-Bakhiani, Bit-Yakhiru, l3it- Haluppi, and half a dozen more. So Ornri's reality as a ruler al1d as a dynastic founder is settled by these mentions.

(ti ) Ahab

Ahab was the unnamed son of Omri in Mesha's inscription, mentioned just above. He is named by Shalmaneser !1I in 853 as a contemporary opponent and "Israelite king,"30 which term implies his rule over all Israel, not simply the town of Samaria. For his Phoenician father-in -law and wife, see above, l.A.iii. The notorious stela from Tell Dan in northernmost ancient Israel can be shown quite clearly to have been a victory stela by an Aramean king, celebrating the defeat and decease of bot h a king of Israel and a king of Judah, the latter termed the "House of David" (Bayt -Dawid; cf. the Bit names mentiolled above} .3l Its sentences VI -VII read:

VI , "i . . .i,am, son of i""i, bng of Iscael;

VII : and [. . . J killed [xxxxJiah, son of [xxxxx.x, .. . ]g of the House of David." These two lines (in context) can only reasonably be restored to read: VI : " [I killed/defeated Jeho ]ram, son of [Allab ], king of Israel; VII: and [ [ I killed [Ahaz ]iah, son of [Joram, kin ]g of the House of David." The preserved traces of royal names and text-breaks only fit the historical circumstances of 2 Kings 9:14-29, with the murder of two kings at once, of Israel (Jehoram SOil of Ahab) and of Judah (Ahaziah [I son of Joram) . The king of Aram would have to have been Hazael in this case, who arrogated Jehu's regicides to his own initiative and glory. This is no unusual thing in ancient Near Eastern royal rhetoric.

(iii ) Succeeding Kin gs

J(eh)oram II is the " [... ]ram, son of [Ahab ], king of [srael" on the Tell Dan stela (just above), slain at the same time as " [Ahaz ]iah, son of [Joram, kin ]g" of


Judah on that stela, as in Kings. He may be included in the offspring ofOmri in line 8 ("son" = Ahab; or "sons" = Ahab plus Ahaziah I and Jehoram ) of the stela of Mesha. Jehu is securely named and attested as paying tribute to Shalmaneser III in the latter's eighteenth year, in 841, on the l3lack Obelisk and in an annalistic fragment. 32 1{eh)oash is mentioned by Adad-n irari HI of Assyria, in relation to a campaign by the latter into Syria, probably in 796 (the Mansuate campaign to the environs of Damascus).)} Menahem is mentioned by Tiglath -pileser III (ca. 738) as Menahem of Samaria, twice. l4 Pekah is likewise so mentioned in two further records of Tiglath-pileser Ill, circa 733.3~ Hoshea is also mentioned by Tiglath-pileser !II (claiming to have officially installed him, ca. 732), aga in in two documents.)6

J(eh)oram II is mentioned ( in a break) on the Te!l Dan stela, as father of Ahaziah of Judah. Ahaziah II is mentioned (as defeated/killed) on the Tell Dan stela .37 Azariah/Uzziah may just possibly be the King Aniau of the fragmentary annals of Tiglath-pileser III for about 738;J3 the fragment that contains the land-name Yaudi (a good cu neiform equivalent of" Judah") is now commonly assigned (with a joining fragment) to Sennacherib, though not with total certainty. Hence we cannot certainly assert that this Aniau (without a named territory!) is Azariah of Judah; the matter remains open and undecided for the present and probably unlikely. Ahaz appears with the fuller name-form leho -ahaz (I) in t he annals of Tiglath-pileser III of Assyria, circa 734. 39 Hezekiah occurs in 701 in the well known annals of the third campaign of Sennacherib, and other inscriptions of that king.40 Manasseh is cred ited with a long reign, and thus fittingly crops up in the inscriptions of two successive kings of Assyria, namely, Esarhaddon (ca. 674) and Assurbanipal. 41 Jehoiachin was the unnamed king of the Babylonian Chronicle who was deported from Jerusalem by Nebuchadrezzar II in 597, and (later) with his fam ily is explicitly named in ration tablets found in the palace at Babylon for the years 594-570.42 Zedekiah was clearly the successor king appointed in Jerusalem in 597 by Nebuchadrezzar II, when he deported Jehoiachin to Babylon ( Babylonian Chronicle).43


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The famous seal of"Shema servant [= minister of state r of Jeroboam" is almost universally recognized to belong to the reign of Jeroboam II of Israel (cf. fig. 2); attempts to date it to Jeroboam I are unconvincing. The Samaria ostraca (main lot) belong also to this period, and maybe to this particular reign. 44 To Shallum (I) (or much less likely, his Judean namesake, Jehoahaz IllIShallum II) may just possibly be attributed an eighth-century cylindrical seal stone of royal style (kingly figure, winged discs, etc.).45 As for Hoshea, to his reign belongs the seal of one "Abd i, servant of Hoshea" (fig . 2) .46

(i) Azariah/Uzziah, latham , Ahaz
To the reign of Azariah/Uzziah belong two seals, of the state ministers ("servants") Shebaniah (Shebullyau) and Abiah (AbiyuU).47 Jotham is attested as Jehotham and father of Ahaz on a recently discovered seal impression ("bulla") that bears the text "Belonging to Ahaz (son of) Jehotham [= long form of lotham]' King of Judah."48 A seal of this reign is known, of Ushna servant of Ahaz (for these, cf. fig. 2).49 For Ahaz as father of Hezekiah, see under Hezekiah.

(ii) Hezekiah (Fig. 2)

His n:lme is mentioned on another recently discovered bulla, which reads: "Belonging to Hezekiah (son of) Ahaz, King of Judah," and with it can now be matched a damaged bulla that bore the same text . ~() To these royal stamps can be added no less than three bullae of "servants" of Hezeki:lh: of lehozarah son of Hilki:lh, of AZ:lriah son of jeho':lbi, and of one on which the name has been lost.) l Among inscriptions without the royal name but belonging to this Time should certainly belong the famous Siloam tunnel inscription (cf. 2 Kings 20:20; 2 ehron. 32:30), and likewise the tomb inscription of the royal steward ("he who is over the house"), [... 1 iah, highly likely to have been [Shebna liah '9


lind the Slime liS Shebnll (llbbrevillted form of this nllme), the rOYlll stewllrd of Hezekillh's dllY, condemned by the prophet ISllillh (lSll. 22:15-25).52

(iii) Ma nasseh
As a young prince he may have had his own personal seal for official purposes. Such a seal may be seen in a known seal inscribed "belonging to Manasseh, son of the king" (fig. 2), the latter being Hezekiah. S3

(jv) Josiah
Several items may well belong to this reign, although they are without certainty and do not rank as firm evidence. But they can be conveniently set out here as a good example of items that (in almost every case) clearly belong to the later seventh (to early sixth) century in Judah. In this short period the choice of reigns is sometimes limited by yellr dates, too high to be llnyone but either Manasseh or Josiah in practice. These lire: (a) Ostracon Mousaieff 1, which required payment of three shekels of silver to "the House [0=: temple ] of the LORD [YHWH ]" in the nllme of 'Ashiahl 'Oshillh the king, vill a man [Z ]echariah . The script is either eighth (so, Cross) or seventh century (so, Yardeni) . In the former case, 'Ashiahl'Oshiah is a varilint of Joash, king of Judllh; in the latter case, of JOSillh, which is the latest dllte possible. [n Josiah's time II Levite named Zechariah was concerned with repairs to the Jerusa[em temple (cf. 2 ehron . 34:12) , so the lllter dllting might well allow of our two Zechariahs being the same man. 54 (b) Seal stones and impressions. These include both fiscal and personal seals. One fiscal seal is dated to a royal "Year 26" in late seventh -fearly sixth century script . Therefore its editors date it to Josiah, the only king who reigned that long, then. (However, it should be said that as Manasseh supposedly reigned fifty-five years, he cannot be ruled out absolutely.) Exactly similar fisca l stamps include dates in Years 13, 14, and 20 (another in a Year 3 is different).s5 The personal seals include (fig. 2): one of a king's son Jeho-ahaz, probably Josiah's eventua l successor; one of Azaliah son of Meshullam (father of Shaphan) (d. 2 Kings 22:3); one of Ahikam son of Shaphan, this reign or Jehoiakim's (cf. 2 Kings 22:12- 14; JeT. 26:24); a seal stone in ring, of Hanan son of Hilkiah, (high) priest in Jerusalem (d. 2 Kings 22:8, 10).56

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the Era of the Hebrew Kingdoms

(v) lehoiakim and lehoiachin

Attributable to Jehoiakim's reign (fig. 2) may be the seal of the king's son Jerahmeel and a bulla from a second seal of the same man. Such a man was son of King Jehoiakim and involved with the prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 36:26). An impression or bulla of "Gemariah son of Shaphan" recalls the man of this name and filiation under jehoiakim in jer. 36:10 -11. 57 For the seal of Gemariah's brother Ahikam, see above under Josiah. For Baruch in this reign and the next two, see under Zedekiah, below. We have also the seal of the king's son Pedaiah, readily identifiable as one of the sons of jehoiach in, named in I Chron. ):16-18. 58 Cf. fig. 2.

(vi) Zedekiah
Here a series of personal seals belong to people who bear the names of charac ters active in this reign . Most famous are two bullae from seals of "Berechiah [::= Baruch ], son of Ner iah the scribe," well known as the prophet Jeremiah's faithful secretary (JeT. 32:12; 36; 4):1 -7; 45). Cf. Fig. 2. Malkijah the king's son (JeT. 38:6) may be the same man as the ow ner of CWSS, 55, no. 15. Seraiah son ofNeri ah appears to be Baruch's brother; Azariah son of Hilkiah would be brother of Hanan (cf. under josiah); cf. 1 Chron . 6:13; 9:1\ . Gedaliah "who is over the house" may have been the Gedaliah who briefly governed Judah after the Babylonian conquest in 586 (cf. 2 Kings 25:22-25). One or another of four seal owners jaazaniah, one being "servant of the king," may again have been the army officer active in 586 (2 Kings 25 :23) . A king's son, Elishama, had descendants active at the fall of jerusalem (2 Kings 25 :25; Jer. :1); his probable seal would then date anytime from josiah onward .59 41 A major inscriptional source at this time is the collection of ostraca found in the ruins of Lachish, known as the "Lachish Letters." Archaeologically they date from the last days of Lachish before it was destroyed by Nebuchadrezzar's troops.60 For the historical role of the foregoing documents, cf. further section 5 below.


Now, after listing the rulers of Israel and T udah from the biblical record (tab. 2, pp. 8-9 above), then checking the foreign rulers there mentioned against the original foreign sources, and the witness of those external sources to Hebrew rulers, and finally the indigenous Hebrew sources so far as they go, we must set out first the basic results for the sequences of rulers in both external and biblical sources and compare notes. Then we may look at the chronology more closely, to establish practical limits during circa 950 -580, so that we may gain a working framework within which to examine (in 5, below) the interlock of historical events in the two lots of sources. The framework of ancient Near Eastern history in this epoch is provided by the two major hearths of complex civ ilization of that day, namely, Mesopotam ia (Assyria and Babylonia) on the east and Egypt to the southwest. Before Alexander the Great (336 -323) we have the Persian Empire, which ended the independence of Babylon in 539 (by Cyrus) and (for a time) of Egypt in 525 (by Cambyses). All these dates are firm and u niversally accepted. In Mesopotamia the Neo-Babylonian kings ruled Babylonia from 626 to 539. Overl apping at the end and preceding them, the kings of Assyria are dated to the year from 912 down to 648 (eponym lists,9!!/9!Off., plus king lists), and to the final end of Assyria in 609. Before 912 Assyrian dates are closely correct back to u80, before which a dispute over three or thirteen years for Ninurta-apil-ekur gives a maxim um tenyear variation back to 1432!t422 for the accession of Enlil-nasir II. Thus from lI80 (and quite closely from the late fifteenth century) Assyrian dates provide a firm backbone of dating other, less securely fixed regions in the Near East.61 On the other side of the area, Egypt also makes a valuable contribution, essentially independent of Mesopotamia. Thus, before the Persian conquest in 525, the Twenty-Sixth (Saite) Dynasty reigned to the year during 664 to 525. The reign ofTanutam un was contemporary with the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty, and the Twenty-Third and Twenty -Fourth Dynasties were wholly contemporary with the Twenty-Second and with each other; so none of these affect the flow of successive dates. Before the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty, Taharqa of the Twenty-Fifth (Kushite/Nubian) Dynasty reigned from 690 to 664. Before this date. it is now clear that Shebitku reigned from at least 702 (and perhaps 706), and his predecessor Shabaka for fourteen years, thirteen over Egypt, maximally 719/mini-

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mally 715 to 702. Before him in Egypt, but not ending before 716 (Osorkon IV = Shilkanni of an Assyria n text in 716), the Twenty-Second (Libyan) Dynasty reigned an absolute minimum of close to 2JO years, beginning with Shoshenq I ("Shishak") from 945 (or extremely close to it) . Note that thi, Egyptian chronology stands illdcpcndently of both the Assyrian alld Hebrew data. Before 945, the Twenty-First Dynasty goes back to 1070 within a year or so. Earlier st ill, the Ramesside Nineteenth and Twentieth Dynasties (New Kingdom) go back to finn dates of 1279 -1213 (not 1212t) for Ramesses II, and for the preceding Eighteenth Dynasty and start of the New Kingdom to either 1550 or 1540 (again, varying because of a king [Tuthmosis II J who reigned either three or thirteen years).62 It is within this very close framework that the dates for the kingdoms of Israel and ludah have to be set. So, first, how do the sequences of rulers fit in these conditions? And then, how about possibly more precise dates?

(i) Mesopotam ia: Reality and Sequence

The Hebrew record names the following kings of Assyria (A) and Babylon (B) in this order: Tiglath -pileser (I1I)/Pui- A Shalrnaneser (V) - A Sargon (II) - A Sennacherib - A Merodach -Baladan (II) - B Esarhaddon - A Nebllchadrezzar ( II) - B Evil -Merodach - B
(745 -727) (727-722) (722-70 5) (705-681) (722-71O,70J) (681-669) (605-562) (562 -560)

As the added Mesopotamian d ates show, t he Hebrew writers in Kings, etc., have their Assyrian and Babylonian monarchs impeccably in the right order, and (for Assyria) in close succession, corresponding to the frequent Assyrian interventions in the Levant. And the basic forms of names given are also known to be closely accurate, contrasted with what is found in writings of the fourth to fi rst centuries n.c .63 Thus the writers of Kings, Chronicles, and Isaiah and leremiah come out well here in terms of accuracy and reliability. They also know their own royal sequence correctly. The Mesopotamian sources con fi rm directly the order of Israelite and Judean kings as found in Kings and Chronicles :


853 Ahah of Israel 84[ jehu of Bit-Khulllri (= Israel) 796 Jehoash of Samaria Adad-nirari III names: Tiglath-piJcser JJJ names: 738 Mellahelll of Samaria (738 Auiau, probably 1101 Azariah) 733 Pekah of Bit-Khumri (= Israel) Ahaz of Judah 734 732 l-Ioshca of Bit-Khumri (= Israel) Sargon II daims: 722 Fall of Samaria l-Iezekiah of Judah 70[ Scnnadlerib names: ESHh:lddon names: 676 Manassch of Judah Assurbanipal names: ca. 666 Manassch of Judah (Jehoiachin) sent to Babylon Nebuchadrezzar II 597 (Zcdeki;lh) in Jerusalem /ehoiachin of Judah, captive names: 594-570 in Babylon

Sha!maneser III names:

These records also give us very definite dates for the floruit of the Hebrew kings mentioned. Thus the sequence of Hebrew kings in Kings, etc., is also straight and reliable, as are the biblical reports on Mesopotamian kings.

(ii ) Egypt and the Levant There is less material to notice here. Shoshenq J celebrated his campaign in Palestine by beginning huge temple-building projects from Year 21 (ca . 925; his stela at Gebel Silsila), his campaign tableau being part of the one at Karnak . Osorkon ! reigned after him, immediately spending vast wealth on Egypt's temple cults (Years 1-4, ca . 924-921; Bubastis text); Osorkon IV reigned circa 732/730-716 . Thereafter Taharqa reigned from 690 to 664, Necho II from 610 to 595, and Hophra from 589 to 570, all in sequence alongside their Hebrew contemporaries. We may again tabulate: Shoshenq I, war in Palestine, Yr 20 ca. 926/25 Osorkon I, spending wealth ca. 924-890/889 Osorkon IV = So ca . 732/730-716 Taharqa: prince vs. Sennacherib 70' : king 690 -664 Necho II 610-595 Hophra 589-570 (Rehoboam, Yr 5) (tp Reh, Asa & Zerah) crp Hoshea of Israel ctp Hezekiah of Judah ctp Josiah of Judah, 609 ctp Zedekiah, 588/587


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the Era of the Hebrew Kingdoms

Again, the sequences and dating tally well, and the names are accurately transmitted. We then turn to the Levant. Us ing combined sources for Aram, Phoenicia, and Jordan , we have: 9th cent. B.C. (9th cent.) 9th cent. start 8th cent.

lttobaal I (Ethbaal) (Mesh a Hazae! Benhadad "HI," son of Hazael Rezin/Rakhianu Baahs

Phoenicia Moab Ararn-D Aram-D Aram-D Ammon

ca. 586

Ahab of Israel Ahab & successors) Jehu & Jehoahaz of Israel Joash of Israel; Zakkur of Hamath Pekah of Israel; T-P III of Assyria Fall of Judah, ca. 586; seal

And again, the sequences and general dates fit perfectly well. (Mesha is in parentheses because he is not securely dated except by the OT reco rd and vaguely by paleography.) The names in Hebrew and the other northwest Semitic languages correspond closely.

(iii ) Local Records

Finally, we examine the modest contribution of "local records." From t he Samaria ostraca we have respectably long reign(s) of from nine to ten and/or fifteen yea rs with organized administ ration in a palace in the first half of the eighth century B.C.; a minister's seal belongs to the time of a Jeroboam, certainly [I. We might have the seal of the ephemeral Shallulll, and certainly a private seal naming Hoshea . In Judah seals name the kings Uzziah, lotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, and most likely Manasseh as prince. Two royal bullae underline the lineage and succession of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. Two well -known stone inscriptions (Siloam tunnel, tomb) make sense if attributed to Hezekiah's reIgn . Then in the later seventh/early sixth century we have a good series of seals and bullae that belonged to or named a whole clutch of charac ters familiar specifically in this period in 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, and Jeremiah . Their overall dating is clinched by those specimens that derive from such d igs as that of the "City of David," with its "house of seals," belonging to the eve of the fall of Jeru salem in 586. The seals and bullae found outside such closed archaeological contexts are so close in nature to these provenanced specimens as to be guaranteed the same general date. 64


The Lachish ostraca belong to that same political context . In other words, these local items do bear out t he reality of kings and their subord inates in both kingdoms, the sequence of some, and the existence of proper governmental royal centers in Samaria (eighth century) and Jerusalem (seventh/early sixth centuries). All of this is consistent with the external evidence from other Near Eastern sources reviewed above.


This topic is complex in severa l ways. We must stick to essentials. The first thing to realize is that the chronological data in Kings in particular - regnal years, synchronisms, etc. - follow normal Near Eastcm usage. 6S They cannot be understood by just totting up figures as if this were some modern, "Western" composition. That way lies confusion, as many have found to their cost. Ancient regnal years were clllculated in one or another of two main ways, simply because kings never normlllly died conveniently at midnight on the last day of the last month of the year, so making their regnal years identical with the ordinary calendar year. So, as in Mesopotamia, one might use accession-year dating. When the throne changed hands during the civil year, that whole year was (in effect) credited to the king who had died, the new man treating it simply as his "accession year" (a year zero), and counting his Year 1 from the next New Year's Day. On this system, if a list says a king reigned eight years, then eight years should be credited to him . But in Egypt the classical system was the opposite: i.e., nonaccession -year dating. In this case, when one king died and llnother llscended the throne, the whole year was credited to the new man (as Year I, straightaway), and none of it to his recently deceased predecessor. In such cases a king who is known to have reached his eighth year can only be credited with seven full years. (Unless, under the New Kingdom system, his full years run independently of the calendar year, when a final six months or more = one full year. But this purely Egypt ian problem will not conceTtl us here.) These phenomena do affect the calculat ion of regnal years in Israel and Judah. A simple theoretical example may show this (see p. 27). On the Egyptian method a king reaches his seventh year ("seven years"), but it is credited to his successor; so we subtract one, giving him a true reign of only six years. On the Mesopotamian method a king reaches his sixth year ("six years"), which is credited to him (merely = accession for next man), so he has a true reign of six years, nothing to subtract. These usages apply as much to Hebrew kings as to their neighbors, and cannot be ignored . This can be seen in a very special context, as long ago pointed out by Thiele. In the history of Israel,

"/11 Medias Res" Egypt Year 12 Year 13; dies Year becomes King 13 - Year 1 King 13 - Year 2 King 13 - Year 3 King 13 - Year 4 King B - Year 5 King 13 - Year 6 King 13 - Year 7; d ies Year becomes King C - Year 1 King C - Ye:lr 2 King C - Ye:lr 3 and so on
Killg A King A -

the Era of the Hebrew Kingdoms

s. c.
9 80 979

Mesopotamia Year 12 Year 13; dies counted to Killg A King 13 - accession yr o nly King 13 - Year 1 King 13 - Year 2 King B - Year 3 King B - Year 4 King B - Year 5 King 13 - Year 6; dies counted to King B King C - accession year only Killg C - Year] King C - Year 2 and so on
King A King A -

978 977 976 975 974 973

97' 97'

Ahab sent troops to the Battle of Q arqar in 853, as his opponent Shalimneser III tells us. So Ahab :It le:lst lived into 853 . But twelve years later, in 841, Jehu of Isr:lel paid tribute, as Shalmaneser][1 also tells us. Yet within th:lt span our data in Kings give two reigns in Israel, Ahaziah at two years and J(eh)oram at twelve years, which makes fourteen years t o our Western minds . On the Mesopotamian accession -year system, this would also be true. But the founder of Israel, Jeroboam I, came not from Mesopotamia but fro III Egypt to found his kingdom (I Kings 1\:40; 12:2), and so he may well have brought the Egyptian usage with him. Because, on the nonaccession -year usage, Ahaziah wou ld have only one full year and J{eh)oram eleven full years- total, twelve years, fitting neatly into the twelve years from 853 to 841. Then Ahab and his predecessors would also have used th is mode. So six kings with eighty-four stated years had actually one full year each less, giving us eighty-four years - six years = seventy-eight years, back to 931/930, for the accession of Jeroboam l, and by inference that of his rival, Rehoboam of Judah. See diagrams, figs. 3 and 4. There is one other control over t his period in Hebrew history. Jehu gained his throne by murdering both his predecessor J(eh)oram II in Israel and Ahaziah II of Judah (2 Kings 9:14- 29), an event now apparently vouched for by the Tell Dan stela independently of Kings, on which Hazael claims the credit for himself (perhaps viewing Jehu as his henchm:ln) . Thus the period from 931/930 down to 84 1 covers all the kings of Israel prior to Jehu and all the Judean kings down to Ahaziah II inclusive, who was killed by Jehu by or in 84] = eighty-nine


or ninety years. The total for Judah, also six kings in that time, is ninety -five years, five or six years in excess of eighty-n ine/ninety years on six kings. [n theory Judah too could be using nonaccession years = eighty-nine real years, almost identical with [sraeL If on the accession-year mode, then these five/six years may represent an error in the figure for either one or more reigns or for one or more co regencies. Before looking at the period 9)1-841 more closely, it will be helpful to note the following underlying facts.

(i) Calendars
We have in practice to deal with three distinct calendars: (I) the ancient and Hebrew spring-to-spring calendar (months Nisan to next Nisan), (2) the ancient and Hebrew autumn-to-autumn ("fall") calendar (months Tishri to next Tishri), and () our modern winter-to-winter calendar (months January to December, next January), which we have to overlay upon the old calendars to "translate" them into our current usage. Any attempt to work out the two lines of Hebrew kings, assuming that they both used the same ancient calendar (whether spring! Nisan or autumnrrishri), soon falls apart, as neither the regnal years nor the syn chronisms given between the two kingdoms make sense on this procedure. It is clear that the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah used different calendars, one Nisan to Nisan, the other Tishri to Tishri . But which used which? The two best and most recent scholars on the whole subject, Thiele and Galil, differ on this point. Thiele assigned the Tishri calendar to Judah and the Nisan one to Israel, while Galil did the opposite. Thiele had respectable reasons in the Hebrew text for his choice (Solomon's count of years, building the temple; Josiah's enactment of cult reforms; Nehemiah's 11:1; 2:11 datings), but they are not needfully decisive. Galil produced no clearly independent evidence for his opposite view (his adduction of Jer. )6:22, pp. 9f., proves nothing). Thiele's choice of calendars leads to consistently one-year-too-high and one-year-too-low figures being given respectively for Israelite years for accession of ludean kings and for /udean years for accession of Israelite kings. He explained this as due to each kingdom citing the other's years by its oWl1count, not the years the other kingdom actually used. This is possible, but is considered by others complex, if consistent. On Galil's choice of calendar, the synchronisms fit, without any other adjustment, which may speak in favor of attributing (with him ) a Nisan-based calendar to Judah and a Tishri-based calendar to Israel. But careful examination of the total regnal data (at least for 9)1 -841) shows that Thiele's treatment of coregencies is to be preferred to Galil's failure to account for a good number


"/11 Medias Res" -

the Era of the Hebrew Kingdoms

of regnal and synchronistic data . Coregencies tend to reflect political events or t hreats of such. From Manasseh (in mid- seventh century) to the end of the Judean monarchy, dates are largely agreed . Between 841 and Hezekiah's reign, improvements on both Thiele and Calil can be made (cf. below), such t hat nearly all our data in Kings appear to be reasonably consistent.

(ll ) Regnal Years

Again, any attempt to impose the same type of regnal year-count (accession or nonaccess ion) on both kingdoms overall is doomed to failure, and has to be discarded. Each used either form of year-count under particu lar circumstances. But on this both Th iele and Calil are in close agreement; namely, that Israel used nonaccession dating in the tenth and ninth centuries but changed to accession -year dating in the eighth, and that, broadly, Judah held to accessionyear dating t hroughout; here Thiele would att ribute a brief use of nonaccessionyear dating under just th ree kings, which appears justifiable on political grounds (Jehoram, Ahaziah II, Joash under Israelite influence). Thus we assemble a practical dating for these kings in table 3, on the following pages.66 This table incorporates the fixed dates from external references (Egypt, Assyria, Babylon), here printed in bold figures . It also incorporates the entire corpus of years of reign and of synchronisms from 1- 2 Kings (paralleled by Chronicles), nearly all of which fit well together, once the wel l-established Near Eastern usages are applied. Thiele's "pattern t welve-thirteen" kind of anomaly and Calil's dismissals of perfectly good data ca n now both be discarded. Only very minor miscopying need be assumed in (at most!) barely t hree instances out of scores of figures, and these may simply be correct figures not yet properly understood . Coregencies usually have polit ical significance, e.g., to affirm the succession under threats (real or potential) from within or withou t. And a new king might continue his old year-numbering at his accession to sale power, or choose to make a complete break to affirm that a different regime was now in power. A good example of the latter is Hezekiah st'lTting a new year- numbering after the death of Ahaz, with whose pro-Assyrian policies he clearly disagreed. Thus we find in Kings a very remarkably preserved royal chronology, mainly very accurate in fine detail, that agrees very closely with the dates given by Mesopotamian and other sources. Such a legacy would, most logically, derive from then-existing archives (such as the "book(s) of the annals of the kings of Judah" and "of Israel" mentioned in Kings), besides archives of administrat ive, legal, or other documents. It cannot well be t he free creation of some much


Table 3. Kings of Israel an d Juda h, 93 1-586 s.c .: Basic Dates





931/930915/9 14 915/9149121911 912/911871/870 871/870849/848 (cr: 873ff.)

nehoboam, 17 full yrs; 926/925 1 Kings 14:21 Abijalll,3 full yrs; acc. Yr 18 Jeroboam I I Kings 15:1f. Asa, 41 full yrs; 1 Kings 15:9 -10; ace. Yr 20 Jeroboam I Jchoshaphat, 25 full yrs; 1 Kings 22:41; ace. Yr 4 Ahab

931/930- Jeroboam I, 21 full yrs 911 /9 10 (to 22nd); I Kings 14:20 911/910910/909 910/909887/886

Nadab, 1 full yr (>2nd); ace. Yr 2 Asa 1 Kings 15:25 Baasha, 23 fu 11 yrs (>24th); ace. Yr 3 Asa; 1 Kings 15:28, 33

887/886- Elah, 1 full yr (>znd); 886/885 1 Kings 16:8; ace. Yr 26 Asa 886/885 Zimri, 7 days; I Kings 16:10,15 Tiblli,5 full yrs (>6th); 1 Kings 16:21f. (rival to O mri) 886/885- Olllri, n full yrs 875/874 (>12th) ; (sole) ace. Yr 31 Asa (881/880); I Kings 16:23 875/874-853 Ahab, 21 full yrs (>22nd ); 853 ace. Yr 38 Asa; 1 Kings 16:29 853 -852


J(eh)oram 1/,7 full yrs (>8th); 2 Kings 8:16; ace. Yr 5 Joram I Ahaziah II, I full yr (>2nd); ace. Yr n/J2 Joram I; 2 Kings 9:29; 8:25-26

Ahaziah I, I full yr (>2nd); ace. Yr 17 Jehoshaphat; 1 Kings 22:51


85 2-841 J(eh)orall1 J, 11 full yrs 12th); acc . Yr 18 Jehoshaphatl2 Joram II; 2 Kings p; 1:17
-------- ~ -----

---------------84 1-835

Queel1 Athaliah, 6 yrs; 2 Kings 11:34

841- 814/813

jehu, 27 (2S?) full yrs (>28/29?); (no ace. link); 2 Kings 10:36; 84'


"/11 Medias Res" 841/83579 6 /795 796/795776/775 (cr: 80S/804ff.) 776/775736/735 (cr: 787ff.)

the Era of the Hebrew Kingdoms

Joash [,39 full yrs (>40) ace. (sole) 7th yr Jehu; 2 Kings 12:1 Amaziah, 29 full yrs; 2 Kings 14:1 -2; ace. Yr 2 Jehoash II Uzziah (Azariah) ,52 full yrs (not active 750ff.) 2 Kings 15:1 -2; ace. as cr, Yr "27" (17?) Jeroboam II 814/813806/805 (cr: 822/21) 806/805791/790 Jehoahaz 1, 16 full yrs (>17); ace. Yr 23 Joash I; 2 Kings IJ:1 Joash 11, 15 full yrs (>16); 796; acc. Yr 37 Joash I; 2 Kings 1}:l0

79 1/79 0 750/749 cr : "804/803 750-735/73 0

Jeroboam II, 41 full yrs; acc. (sole) Yr 15 Amaziah; 2 Kings 14 :23 Zachariah, 6 mos; 2 Kings 15:8; acc . YrJ8 Uzziah Shallum, 1 mo; 2 Kings 15:13; acc. Yr 39 Uzziah Menahcm, 10 full yrs; 2 Kings 15:17; ace. Yr 39 Uzziah 738 Pekahiah, 2 full yrs; 2 Kings 15:23; ace. Yr 50, Uzziah Pekah, 5 yrs ('"20'" back-dated); real acc. Yr 52 Uzziah; 733 2 Kings 15:27 Hoshea, 9 full yrs; 732 acc. Yr 20 )otham/Yr 12 Ahaz; 2 Kings 1):301 17:1 Fall of Samaria, 722

Jotham, 16/20 full yrs; acc . "Yr 2" Pekah; 2 Kings 1s:J2-33, cf. 30

75 0 /749


749/748739/73 8

739/73 87371736
735/734 or 73 1/73 0 -715

Ahaz, 16/(20 ) yrs; 2 Kings 16:1-2; acc. '"Yr Ii' Pekah; 734 Hezekiah, 29 full yrs; 701 2 Kings 18:1-2; acc . Yr 3 Hoshea

737173 673 2/73 1 ("751/750'"ff.)

73 2/73 1- 722

715- 687/686 (cr: 728ff.)

687/686- 642

(cr: 697/696ff.)

Manasseh, 55 full yrs; 2 Kings 2U; 676; ca. 666 Amol1, 2 full yrs; 2 Kings 21:19



609-59 8 598-597 597-586


josiah, 31 full yrs; Kings 22:1 jehoahaz II, 3 mos; 2 Kings 23:31 Jehoiakim, 11 full yrs; 2 Kings 23:36 jehoiachill,3 mos; 2 Kings 24:8 Zedekiah, 11 full yrs; 2 Kings 24:18 Fall of jert/salem


later writer's imagination that just happens (miraculously!) to coincide almost throughout with the data then preserved only in documents buried inaccessibly in the ruin mounds of Assyrian cities long since abandoned and largely lost to view.


Here we look compactly at those episodes in ancient Near Eastern history that are common to both sets of sources - the biblical writings and the nonbiblical or external sources - and compare notes to see how far they match up with each other, if at alL


We have met th is character already (p. 10, above). In I Kings 14:25-26 and in 2 Chron. 12:2 -9, we have the succinct report (Kings) that "Shishaq" (better variant, "Shushaq") king of Egypt came up to Jerusalem in the fifth year of Rehoboam king of Judah, taking off as booty the wealth of the temple and palace there.67 Other details (Chronicles) list Shishak's considerable forces as including Libyans, Sukkiyim, and Nubians (Kushites); Jerusalem was not taken by force, but in effect its wealth was handed over as tribute, with vassal status ("service to earthly kingdoms," 2 ehron. 12:8). So, by these accounts, the Egyptian ruler

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went home enriched, and may have imposed tribute-paying vassal status upon ludah . As both Kings and Chronicles stem from ludean writers, they have nothing more to say about the neighboring kingdom of Israel, subsequent to Jeroboam's exit from Egypt, where he had enjoyed Shishak's pat ronage as a dissident (I Kings 11:40; 12:2). The Hebrew narrat ives do not stand alone. There is no reason whatever to doubt the identity of the Hebrew "Shushaq" with the very well known pharaoh Shoshenq I, founder of the Twenty-Second Dynasty, of Libyan origin, whose reign is closely datable to circa 945 -924. Pharaohs from of old placed their "throne names" (adopted at accession) and personal names in royal ovals or cartouches. Those of Shoshenq I are, respectively, Hedj-kheper-re Setepcllrc and Shoshellq Beioved-oJ-Amun, Amun being Egypt's great imperial god, with a vast temple at Karnak in Thebes. These cartouches are exclusive to Shoshenq I; no other Shoshenq, of numbers ll-VI(II), used that combination. To this first Shoshenq belongs a series of monuments that link him explicitly with Palestine and war there. Conversely, 110 other Shoshellq has (so far) any known connection with Palestine or events there . And the dates of Shoshenq I (ca. 945-924) fit the dates for Rehoboam (ca. 931-914). Even more closely, Shoshenq I's unfinished works in celebration of his victory date to his Year 21 onward (Silsila stela, that year; ca. 925), setting his campaign in Years 19 or 20 (927f. or 926f.), whi le the fifth year of Rehoboam is about 926/925 also. The Egypt ian and Hebrew dates series are independent of each other (pp. 24, 30 above) but match very well. The Egyptian data for the campaign follow strictly Egyptian usage. The geographical point of proof is the top corner of a stela bea ring the disti nctive cartouches of Shoshenq I (and nobody else!) in the rubble of ancient Megiddo itself - his "visiting card" (fig. 5A) .6<I Setting up such a monument indicates an Egyptian presence and (in this Egyptian historical context) a conquest . Such stelae were often set up or rock-carved in regions that the pharaohs then claimed as vassal states, as did Sethos I at Beth -Shan (north Canaan; two) and Tell Shihab (east of Lake Galilee), and Ramesses II at Beth-Shan, Byblos, Tyre, Adhlun, and Nahr el-Kalb (Lebanon; three) and Sheikh Said (east of Lake Galilee). This interpretation would agree with the remark at the end of 2 Chron.

The place-name list in his huge triumph scene at Karnak is extensive, but damaged (names are lost in rows IV and Xl). Like all such major lists, a rhetorical text ru ns above it, of very original stamp, mentioning the king's buildings as well as his valor. And exactly like almost all other such major lists, the rows of place- names (each in an oval) do 1I0t run in a continuous sequence (like an ent ire journey), but are made up of segmelJts or extracts from routes; no capital


cities are picked out, no defeated foreign ruler is ever mentioned, and (in Canaan and Syria) no nation or state is named, merely the townships encountered. 69 Cf. figs . 5B, 6, and 7. So, this great list does not mention either a Rehoboam or a Jeroboam, or the "state names" of Judah or Israel; that was never done in such long town lists. What we do have is several series of names of places known in both Judah and Israel, from which Shoshenq's course of campaign can be discerned.1 This is valuable, in that it shows that Shoshenq I chose not only to cow and loot Rehoboam of Judah, but also to bring his former protege Jeroboam of Israel to heel. It may well be (a touch of speculation, for a moment!) that Shoshenq's price tag for helping Jeroboam into power in 931 was that Jeroboam should thereafter pay him tribute as a vassal. It would only need Jeroboam to default on his payment to bring the redoubtable pharaoh down upon him, and to lay hands on Judah's rumored wealth for good measure. A Karnak stela of Shoshenq I (though fragmentary) clearly mentions conflict with "Asiatics" on the Sinai border of the East Delta - for a ruler ben t on conquest, such an incident (however flimsy) would serve as a sufficient excuse to sweep across north Sinai into Judah, then up into Israel. So the Egyptian data add complementary details to our biblical information. The latter in turn hint at the mixed composition of Shoshenq's force : Libyans (as one would expect of a Libyan ruler); Nubians (from the many resident in Egypt, or recruited from Nubia); and - most interesting -some Sukkiyim, or scouts, Libyan auxiliaries known in Egyptian texts from the thirteenth/twelfth centuries onward, an intimate detail that we owe exclusively to the Chronicler and his (non biblical) sources. 7l Thus, overall, the very differently composed Egyptian and Hebrew sources usefully complement one another, to produce a fuller picture of a particular historical occasion.




In 2 Kings 3:4-27 we have an account of conflict between Israel and Moab. Under Ahab (and perhaps before), Mesha king of Moab had had to pay annual tribute to Israel, but he rebelled after Ahab's death. So Ahab's successor, Joram, engaged Jehoshaphat king of Judah and the king of Edom in a joint attack on Moab to bring Mesha back into subjection . After the allies achieved milita ry success against Moab, the king of Moab resorted to grisly sacrifice, and the al lies had to retreat. The reason is not stated, but it is assuming very little to infer that their king's drastic act spurred the Moabites into a frenzied counterattack that drove their opponents from the field . Nobody in antiquity liked to admit

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the Era of the Hebrew Kingdoms

defeat, but writers would disguise or minimize it in one way or another (cf. 2 Kings P7b) . With the discovery at Dibon of a stel:l of Mesha himsel f (1868), we have a comp:lmble :lccount from the Moabite side. Mesha had succeeded his f:lther after the latter's thirty years of rule. During that period and into his own reign, Omri king of Israel and his son (i.e., Ahab) oppressed Moab "many years" (II. 56); under Omri and his sons (= descendants, e.g., Ahab, Joram), "40 years" (11 . 7-8) . Then Mesh:l threw off Israel's yoke and proceeded to take (back) Madeba, Ataroth, Nebo, and Jahaz. In the sout h the "House of [Da lvid" (I. 31; fig. 1 313) had held Horonen, so Mesha took that also. His stela celebrates his successes and his consequent building works.72 Here then there is overlap with the Hebrew account, but also additional information (just as in Shoshenq's case). 130th accounts agree in portraying the basic situation; namely, that the Omride Dynasty in Israel had succeeded in imposing its overlordship upon Moab, turning the Moabite kingdom into a tribute-paying vassal, and that for a dear span of years, not just the odd year or two. That situation began under Omri and continued under Ahab until his death. But under Joram, t he MO:lbite king rejected vassal status and rebelled . From this point each side goes on to stress its successes and to minimize its reverses. Initially the allies overran Moabite territory, defeating and killing the foe, and destroying all they could, until suffering a final reverse such that they withdrew; this is all p:lssed over in silence by Mesha on his stela . But the withdmwal from Moab by the allies gave Mesha the opportunity to consolidate his position, reoccupy places formerly held by his foes, and rebuild his towns and utilities, which are the aspects that he st resses on his monument - the capture of Madeb:l, Ataroth, Nebo, Jahaz, and Horonen; the building (rebuilding?) of Baal -meon, Qiryaten, Qeriho, Aroer, Beth -13:lmoth, and Bezer (both "destroyed" and "in ruins," 1. 27); the making of cisterns (11. 9, 23, etc.) - or in fact, their redearing? In thanksgiving to his deity Kemosh, Mesha then also built temples in Diblaten, Baal-Meon, and possibly [Made Jba (11. 29 -30). This process of renewal might h:lve taken anywhere from a couple of years to five or ten years at most; there is no justification whatsoever tor dating the contents or carving of the stela any later than that, after the clash with the allies, or for any more elaborate theory of the course of events than that just given . This monument was certa inly not a postmortem memorial. With Jehoram's accession about 852, Mesha's successful rebellion would hardly be later than circa 850. Thus his subsequent consolidation would have been achieved within circa 850/840 at most. About 840/835 is therefore, historically, about the latest credible date (even too late) fo r the creation of this stela.


Thus, again, and as one would expect on the basis of innu merable other examples of this kind where distinct accounts are available from different sources, a fuller account emerges from careful comparison of the total evidence.


In 2 Kings 9:1-29 we are given an account of how Jehu, an Israel ite army commander, proceeded to kill off both his own master Joram (I) king of Israel and the latter's ally Ahaziah (II) king of Judah during a lull in their war with Hazael, king of Aram of Damascus. This is the only occasion on which two monarchs of Israel and Judah met their deaths at virtually the same moment in time. In recent years excavations at Tel Dan, ancient Dan, yielded two stone fragments (one broken) from a stela bearing the remains of at least thirteen lines of inscription in Old Aramaic .73 Lines 3 to 9 are the dearest and bestpreserved part. These read largely as follows: (3) And my father lay down, and he went to his ( fore)fathersj. And the king of 1(4)( sjrael had come lip earlier into my fa ther's land . (But l Hadad made rnle l king, (5) (even) me. And Hadad went before me, (. . . obscure .. .) (6) my kings(?) And I killed (?mightly ki(ngs?] who harnessed twoU) th [ousand ch](7)ariots and two(?) thousand horsemen. 74 [And I killed? xxx]ram, son of [xxxx ], (8) king of Israer. n And [I] killed [xxx]iah son of [XXXX.XX ](9)? the House of David (fig. 13A). And [ set [destruction in their cities, etc.?/tribute on their people, etc.?] (\O) their land [... J. The author of th is text was dearly a king; his text is in Aramaic, and the god Hadad was his patron; the power that was Israel's next-door neighbor to her north was the kingdom of Aram ruled from Damascus. Thus the originator of this text was a king of Aram -Damascus beyond any serious doubt. In this text he did something (presurnably mIsty) to " [.. . jrarn son of [xxxx l. king of Israel," and slew a person "[xxxliah son of [X ]" related to the House of David, i.e., Judah. In the whole series of the kings of Israel, there is one mId ollly Olle king

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the Era of the Hebrew Kingdoms

whose name ends in -ram, and that is J(eh)o ram, son of Ahab, circa 852-841. Therefore it seems at the present time inevitable that we should restOre here "[J(eh)olram son of [Ahabl, king of Israel." In strict parallel wit h the sentence about [Jehojram of Israel, we have ano ther that our Aramean king killed " [xxx liah son of [X I," plus mention of the House of David = Judah. This person from Judah must have been of comparable importance to [Jeho lram of Israel to be worth listing with him in the same breath as being slain . 50 he should be a king (or nearest deputy). and he has to be a contemporary of loram of Israel. This dating immediately excludes such Judean kings as Amaziah, Uzziah, Hezekiah, and Zedekiah, who are all much too late to be with Joram in or before 841. The only other known suitable person is Ahaziah (II) king of Judah - who in fact is the very man killed off at the same time as loram of Israel in the narrative of 2 Kings 9. This identification places the Aramean king's two victims on the same footing: king of Israel and king of Judah. Therefore it is extremely likely that we should further restore " [Ahazjiah son of [Jo ram, ... jk the House of David ." Most scholars co ncede the further restoration [m II k, "[kin lg," hence reading "A . son of J., king of the House of David," which makes good sense. Thus there is very good reason indeed to allow that the actions narrated here belong to the year 841, when both Ahaziah and Joram perished at the hand of Jehu . The author of the stela would then, inevitably, have been Hazael, king in Damascus, who was warring with t hese kings before their decease, and long survived them?6 His claim to have dispatched t he two Hebrew monarchs at first cont rasts with the attribution of th is deed to Jehu in 2 Kings 9. But it is commonplace for Near Eastern rulers to claim credit for actions by others.77 Hazael may have chosen to regard the usurper Jehu as a likely vassal in his own plans - but Jehu t hought otherwise, and may (as a vu lnerable new king of Israel) have appealed for support to 5halmaneser III of Assyria, hence his immediate offering oftribute in 841, recorded by that king. This was exactly what Ahaz of Judah did at a later date, appealing to Tiglath -pileser III when threatened by Rezin of Aram and Pekah of Israel (2 Kings 16:5-9). Hazael's father may have been a high army commander of his predecessor, or a younger son of his predecessor not ent itled to the throne. But even as a usurper, he could use the term "father" of a predecessor, a well-known usage.?8 Thus the Tell Dan stela is virtually certainly an addit ional witness to a particular set of events in 841 that are also featured in 2 Kings 9, particularly as [JoJram king of Israel is to be read.



D. TIGLATH-PILESER III AND THE HEBREW KINGDOMS One of the most active Assyrian warrior-emperors, Tig[ath-pi[eser [II (a[ias Pul) first appears in the reign of Menahem, who paid him a massive tribute, 1,000 talents of silver, to gain the Assyrian's support as king in Israel (2 Kings 15:19-20). This payment may have been m ade circa 740 or earlier; his tribute in 738 may have been the regular kind. As Tadmor has pointed out, 1,000 talents of silver was the going rate of payment that "TP" commonly exacted from usurpers and local kings on wobbly thrones.7 9 Tiglath-pileser's own annals cite Hoshea of Israel later paying 10 talents of gold and (I,ooo l?]) talents of silver; Hulli ofTabal (in southeast Anatolia), 10 talents of gold and 1,000 talents of silver; and Metenna king of Tyre, (1)50 talents of gold and 2,000 ta lents of silver. In fact, as those figures show, Menahem got off rather lighter than the others (no gold to pay!). Nevertheless, he had to raise his thousand (we are told) by levying fifty shekels on every wealthy man in his little kingdom. That general rate ( fift y-sixty shekels), again, is attested in external records from Assyria itself. In Judah, King Ahaz also sought to get the Arameans off his back by calling in the Assyrian colossus and paying up front with silver and gold (2 Kings 16:7 -9) . Tiglath-pileser's texts in turn record that Jeho-ahaz (longer form of Ahaz's name) was among tribute-paying r ulers by about 734 - probably soon after his "bribe" following his takeover of power in Judah in 735.S(I In 2 Kings 15:29, during the reign of Pebh (with echoes in I ehron . 5:6 and 26), Tiglath-pileser 1[[ is said to have taken over Gilead east of the Jordan and Galilee west of it, cities (like Ha2or) being listed, and to have deported the inhabitants to Assyria. Tiglath-pileser did indeed invade Gilead and Galilee, as his own rather damaged records show. For 733 -732 we read of the dethronement and exile of King Pekah of [srael, and (in damaged context) carrying off "all its people" from part of Bit-Khumri (= [srael).81 Annals fragments (18124) mention the towns Hannathon ("Hinatuna"), lotbata ("Yatbite"), and probably Marom ("Marum"), all in Galilee. A relief scene celebrates the capture of the town of Astartu, the Ashteroth-(Qarnaim) just north of Gi[ead .1I2 From excavations and surveys it is clear that occupation of settlements in Galilee was drastically reduced in the late eighth century (our period), as shown by the occupation history of such sites as Tel Madar, Tel Gath Hepher, Khirbet Rosh Z1yit ("Cabul"), and others. s, At Hazar (end of level V), the ferocious destruction wrought by Assyrian troops left a layer of black ash a meter thick, which told its own grim tale. Only a few poor squatters hovered there afterward a while (level IV). Then nobody cared until a Babylonian watch post was set there about 150 years later (tevellll), followed by a rural Persian-a ge settlement (level 11).84 Finally, the reign of Hoshea.ln 2 Kings 15:30 we are told that Hoshea slew 38

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the Era of the Hebrew Kingdoms

Pekah to gain the throne for himself. The other side of the coin is to be seen, again, in the inscriptions ofTig[ath-pileser III, where the change of ki ng can still be seen in the fragmentary texts .8 5


(i) Samaria
In 2 Kings 17:3-6 we read of the final end ofthe kingdom oflsrael. We are told that Hoshea ceased to pay tribute to Assyria, intrigued with King So of Egypt, and that Shalmaneser of Assyria in consequence seized Hoshea, besieging Samaria for three years until its fall. "The king of Assyria" then deported the people to Assyria. This episode features also in the cuneiform sources. The very prosaic, factual Babylonian Chronicle (no. I, i:28) preserves a general entry on Shalmaneser V's reign, stating that he ravaged Samaria, after which it reports his death in his fifth year (=- 722) .86 This would be consisten t with the siege and capture of Samaria being a major event of his short (five-year) reign, and in effect its last event. Regrettably, the equally prosaic, dry record in the eponym list is badly damaged in its "events" entries at th is time. The year for 727 has the remains of Shalmaneser V's accession; 726 is "i n [somewhere; any other event [ost ]"; 725724-723 all have the tantalizing entry "to [somewhere, lost ]." This has often been restored as "to [Samaria ]" - wh ich is possible, but entirely beyond proof unless fresh manuscript evidence (better-preserved tablet copies) turns up. Other restorations would be equally possible. The following entries (722-720) have nothing at at! preserved, save for the names of the eponym officials them selves that marked off each year. 87 However, following Shalmaneser's very brief reign, which ended before any account of his last year could be monumentalized, Sargon II replaced him in a coup d'etat, and subsequently claimed the capture of Samaria for himself, much later on in his reign. This was certainly a propaganda exercise, to cover the gap in military successes that would otherwise disfigure the accounts of his reign. The mere three months of his "accession year" were not adequate to run a campaign, nor the season suitable; and internal strife occupied his first year of reign . So the later annalists had to cover this over by attributing Shalmaneser's capture of Samaria to Sargon. To the biblical writers, it was of no importance which Assyrian king reduced Samaria - only the event and its significance for them (seen as a judgment) actualty mattered. But in Assyria, Sargon II was tantamount to a usurper, and had to justify


himself then, and to later generations. Th us, despite a great deal of discussion, there is (as various Assyriologists have pointed out) no reason to doubt the basic events as indicated in both Kings and the other sources rightly understood. Namely, that Shalmaneser V's forces besieged Samaria for three years (725/724, 724/723,723/722) to its fall in 722; Hoshea h imself may have fallen into Assyrian hands before the final fall, but this is a moot point. It fell to Sargon II to complete the deportation of the Israelite captives to Assyria, and to settle other people in Samaria in their place. In 720, any local re~ volt in the land (fomented by remaining locals?) was quickly crushed. Thus the biblical picture of events and Mesopotam ian factual data agree well, and other speculations are largely profitless.88

(ii ) Ashdod
Ashdod is a simpler matter. Its troubles wi th Assyria gave rise to the Bible's only mention of Sargon II of Assyria . In Isa. 20:1 a brief oracle is dated as given "in the year when t he turtall ('commander') sent by Sargon of Assyria reached Ashdod, attacked it and took it."That event can be dated to either 7]2 or711, by reference to the inscriptions of Sargon 11,712 being the preferable date. 89 The Assyrian texts confirm that Sargon sent his commander; he was busy building a new capital city, Dur-Sharrukin, "Sargonstown" or "Sargonburgl Sargonville." The eponym list confirms that in 7]2 the king was "in the (home)land" and not warring abroad, hence his general would go to Palestine in his name. 90 The conquest of Ashdod and Assyri an rule there is borne ou t by the discovery at Ashdod itself of fragments of a victory stela of the type Sargon [I set up at home in Dur-Sharrukin. 91 The city had been badly damaged, as destruction of stratum VIII shows, and needed a rebuild (stratum VII). Thus our external resources (in texts and archaeology alike) provide a fuller context for the fleeting date line in [sa . 20:].



701 B.C.

In 2 Kings 18:13 to ]9:37, closely similar to Isa. 36-37 (plus 2 ehron. 32:]-22), we find an account of Sennacherib's invasion of Judah . Jerusalem was not cap40

"/11 Medias Res" -

the Era of the Hebrew Kingdoms

tured, but Hezekiah had to return to vassal status; the Assyrian king besieged and took Judean towns including Lachish, then went against Libnah. With this, one may compare the inscriptions from Sennacherib's scribes, which set the clash in a wider context .92 From these, the sequence of events is perfectly clear in essence. The death in battle of Sargon II (705) and the need for Sennacherib to get control of his inheritance led to disquiet and revolt in his wide empire. He had first to secure the position in Babylonia (whence in 703 Merodach Baladan II ra ised intrigue, perhaps then also with Hezekiah; d . 2 Kings 20:12-19 and Isa. 39:1-8; 2 ehron . 32:31). Only thereafter in 701 could Sennacherib move westward. The Assyrian first secured most of Phoenicia - only Tyre on its offshore rock proved impregnable. But with the rest of Phoenicia at his feet, Sennacherib held a durbar or rally of loyal vassals, who dutifully brought or sent their tribute, including arrears . Missing were Hezekiah of Judah (rebel), Padi of Ekron (in Hezekiah's custody), and Gaza (perhaps occupied by EgyptoNubian forces). Sennacherib moved south, toward Philistia . Joppa fell, but at Eltekeh the allies opposed Sen nacherib. although without success. The Assyrian could then recapture Ek ron, and thus feel free to invade Judah, taking its towns as he went. Lachish put up stiff resistance to the Assyrian emperor (cf. here 2 Kings 18:14; 19:8). Hezekiah could smell potential disaster, so he sent word down to Lachish, offering to pay tribute once mo re (cf. 18:14-15). That encouraged Sen nacherib to send high dignitaries lip to Jerusalem with an intimidating army force, to demand full surrender (cf. 18:17 to 19:8) . Sennacherib, meanwhile, moved on to Libnah, after overcoming Lachish. Meant ime also, the allies who had recoiled south toward base camp at Gaza saw their chance: to strike stealth ily at Sennacherib from behind while his forces were split between Lihnah and Jerusalem . So the regrouped allies came quietly back north, this t ime (unlike at Eltekeh) nominally led by Tirhakah of Egypt and Kush (and doubtless a clutch of generals); cf. 2 Kings 19:9. But the Assyrian intelligence (spies, no doubt) detected them, and so Sennacherib brought his forces together, down from Jerusalem and round from Libnah, to strike back at the allies. They got wind of this danger and quietly melted back south - in the case ofTirhakah and his force, conveniently to the safety of distant Egypt. See maps, tig. 9A- B. At this point something happened to Sennacherib's troops, because (even though rid of the Egypto-Nubians, with only puny Gaza aga inst him) he did not reengage against either Gaza or Judah, but set off home instead. Here 2 Kings 19:)5-)6 speaks of a visitation that brought sudden death to a large part of the Assyrian force. What this was in practice, we do not know - food poisoning or whatever? Sennacherib d id not even wait for Hezekiah's tribu te before quitting the noxious little province; he himself states that Hezekiah's trib-


ute followed h im to Assyria, doubtless the tribute that we see Hezekiah gathering up in 18:15-16. Viewed thus, with careful observance of t he features of both the Assyrian and Hebrew texts, a coherent picture of the whole episode emerges. The verses in 18:15-16 simply round off in advance the source of Hezekiah's tribute, almost as a "footnote"to the king's offer and the Assyrian's fixing the rate, early on in the proceedings.93 A few other details are worth note in passing. Hezekiah is said to have had to produce 30 talents of gold and 300 talents of silver in the Hebrew account (2 Kings 18:14), but an identical 30 talents of gold and heavier 800 talents of silver in Sennacherib's accou nt; if graphic or transmission errors be not responsible, it may be that Sennacherib at some point demanded more than his first "price" (perhaps in return for not pressing an assault on Jerusa lem?). The siege and capture of Lachish (cf. 2 Kings 18:14, 17; 19:8) is not mentioned in Sennacherib's annals - curiouslyl - but it is the centerpiece to a splendid set of scenes showing the Assyrian forces attacking, then actively pressing their siege to break into Lach ish, capture the town, and lead out captives to Sennacherib seated in triumph on his high throne. The mound of Tell ed -Duweir shrouds the remains of ancient Lachish, where excavations have revealed the battered bulk of the Assyrian siege ramp (as shown on the reliefs) up to the walls, plus a Hebrew counterramp within the walls. This city, destroyed by the Assyrians, is Lachish kvel ill archaeologically. Later rebuilt, it became the diggers' Lachish level II, which - again - crashed in flames at the onset of the Babylonians barely 120 years later (d. sec. H, below).94

(ii ) The Death of Senn acher ib

However, our biblical narratives about this king do 1JOt stop with the end of his war in the Levant in 701. In 2 Kings 19:37 (and Isa.37:38) we read that the luckless Sennacherib was murdered by two of his sons, and was succeeded by another, namely, Esarhaddon. This is so; the Assyrian sources ( including from Esarhaddon himself) and the Babylonian Chronicle plus later sources confirm the putsch. They mention murder by a son (Babylonian Chronicle) and by sons in the plural (Esarhaddon, Nineveh records); the biblical Adrammelek is a form of Arda-mulissi (the name of Sennacherib's murdero us eldest son in contem porary documents), and is the Adramelos of Berossus and Ardamuzan of others; "Shar-ezer" is an abbreviation of the name type ( Deity) -shar-usur. So, in one form or another, this sad affair became all too well known in various streams of tradition. 95


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G. JOSIAH ' S FATAL MISSION AND THE FALL OF ASSYR IA At the end of the seventh century the long-hated power of Assyria was at last showing signs of breaking down . Under a new Chaldean dynasty, founded by Nabopolassar, Babylon secured its independence and, with Median allies, could begin to push back Assyria into defending itself instead of dominating others. This led to the fall of Assyria's great cities, of ancient and ancestral Ashur in 614 and of mighty Nineveh itself in 612. The last Assyrian king, Assur-uballit [I, retreated westward to set up government in the venerable city of Harran, to make his nation's last stand. Under its vigorous new Twenty-Sixth Dynasty, Egypt had ceased to be an Assyrian vassal but stood by her as ally. By 610 the new Pha raoh Necho II was march ing to his ally's aid; but he and Assur-uballi t II retreated west of the Euphrates rather than take on the Medes and Babylonians full face. But the latter seized Harran. So in 609 came the fina l fling. Necho II marched just once more to his ally's support. But at this point a "bit player" came in. As 2 Kings 2}:29-30 records, Josiah of Judah sought to obstruct Necho II, to stop him from reaching Assuruballit in time to back him up against Babylon and the Medes. But Necho crushed the Judean force, killing Josiah, and swept on up to Carchemish, to rejoin Assur-uballit. However, the Babylonians held Harran and won the day, Assur-ubaJl it fled (perhaps to the mountains of Urartu), and Assyria waS no more. So the summer of 609 saw the death both of Judah's brave if reckless king and of the Assyrian emp ire that he had obviously hated. 96 Thus the context from the Babylonian Chronicles and the brief entry in the book of Kings combine to give us a fuller picture. And also a more correct one. Before those chron icles were discovered and published, 2 Kings 2):29 was translated so that Pharaoh Necho went up against Assyria; but recovery of these documents showed that the rendering "against" was a mistranslation, and "to" (Le., "to help") was what had been intended.

H. T H E NEOBABYLO NIANS TAKE OVER From 608 to 586 the little Judean kingdom survived, as the Neo -Babylonian Empire replaced that of Assyria. The years 608 to 594 are covered by the Babylonian Chronicle tablets;'n we still lack the next thirty-seven years in tablets not yet recovered. In the Hebrew record Necho [[ dismissed Jeho-ahaz in favor of Jehoiakim (who became Babylon's vassal, then rebelled), he being succeeded by his own son Jehoiachin until the new prince was removed by the Babylonians (and exiled to Babylon) in favor of Zedekiah. Zedekiah in turn was a vassal,


then rebelled, bringing down Nebuchadrezzar's wrath upon the land, ending the kingdom with the fall and substantial destruction of Jerusalem (in 5871586 ) . Our principal external source for this brief period is the Babylonian Chronicle until 594, as already noted. Its condensed narrative and datings (via the regnal years of Nebuchadrezzar II) dovetail with the biblical data already mentioned. Thus in 605 Nebuchadrezzar (on his father Nabopolassar's behal!) defeated Necho II of Egypt, taking on the overlordship of the Levant - but had to speed home to Babylon to assume his crown and throne at Nabopolassar's death . So in 604 he could then return to reinforce his control in t he Levant which was when lehoiakim of Judah became his full vassal, remaining so for three years (2 Kings 24:1), i.e., during 60 4 /603, 603/602, and 602/601. Then, about 601, the ludean king changed his mind and rebelled against Babylon (2 Kings 24:1 -2). Why? Because in that year, on Egypt's borders, the armies of Egypt and Babylon "inflicted great havoc on each other" (as the Babylonian Chronicle puts it), such that Nebuchadrezzar's forces went back to Babylon so badly mauled that the year 600 was needed for a refit, and even in 599 they could only tackle the Syrian Arabs for a "trial spin ." This discomfiture of Babylon lulled the foolish Jehoiakim into thinking that Babylon's day was done, and that he could defy them (and perhaps rely on Egypt for protection). But finally, in his seventh year (598/597), Nebuchadrezzar could march west for a time of reckoning . Jehoiakim slipped his net, by dying, leaving his son lehoiachin to face the music. The Babylonian Chronicle notes that Nebuchadrezzar II "besieged the city of Judah [i.e., its capital, Jerusalem ], and on 2nd of Adar [15/16 March 5971 he took the city and seized the king. A king of his own choosing he appointed (instead), received its massive tribute and sent them to Babylon ." The siege is that of 2 Kings 24:1O-1I. And on surrendering, Jehoiachin was indeed taken prisoner (24:12). As for massive tribute, 24:13 records that the Babylonians stripped out the temple and palace treasuries in Jerusalem of gold and the rest. Nebuchadrezzar chose his new king of Judah, specified as Zedekiah in 2 Kings. Thus we have available good, mutually complementary, and parallel records. Of the time of lehoiakim to Zedekiah, we read in Kings, Chronicles, and Jeremiah of various individuals of whom personal seals and seal impressions ("bullae") are known, and not only from such items recovered through modern trade but also in a firm archaeological context from the destruction of Jerusalem in 586. Of that destruction there is clear evidence both in the northwest quadrant of ancient Jerusalem and in the "City of David" area south of the Temple Mount. In the former, Avigad found both a massive inner wall and (lower down ) an outer wall, with part of a gateway, and of a turret farther west ( all 44

"/11 Medias Res" -

the Era of the Hebrew Kingdoms

belonging to Iron II period) . Burnt matter, including also arrowheads both Israelite and foreign by their types, testified to a fierce siege, and (in context) to the final fall of Iron II Jerusalem, as in 586 . In t he City of David area, ,lJ1alogous destruction of buildings is well attested . The "house of bullae" yielded a series of thus closely dated seal impressions, which confirm the date of those that have come through trade. For such people common to the seals and the mentions in 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, and Jeremiah, see already above, section 3 (pp. 19-21 ).98 The fall of the kingdom of Judah during 597-586 is illustrated by the archaeology of other sites besides Jerusalem. Most famous is Lachish. Stratum II was destroyed by Nebuchdrezzar's forces along with Azekah (Jer. 34:6 -7), after a siege. In a burnt room at the city gate was found a group of ostraca, the "Lachish Letters," which reflect the tense situation before the Babylonian attack; "we cannot see the (fire )-signals of Azekah," writes one correspondent, using the term employed also in Jer. 6:1. Between 597 and 586 other towns too met their fate, such as Ekron, Timnah, Gezer, Beth -Shemesh, etc .99 The combi ned data of texts, seals, and archaeological contexts suffice to ind icate the real ities behind the Hebrew accounts of the last decade of the kingdom of Judah.


In the foregoing survey, the two books of Kings have been our principal source in the Hebrew Bible. From RehoboaIn and Jeroboam onward, each reign is introduced and concluded in formal fashion; for more information the reader is referred to the writer's sources, namely, the book of the annals (lit. "dai ly affairs") of the kings of Judah, or of Israel, as the case may be. (Chronicles does much the same.) In other words, ollr present books of 1 and 2 Kings are not themselves the annals of the twin kingdoms, but are a separate work that drew upon such annals or chronicles; 1- 2 Kings are not simply the "bare" history, but an interpretation of it . But are there comparable writings (whether annals/chronicles or interpretative works) in the rest of the biblical world? In large measure, yes; the socalled Babylonian Chronicle we have heard from already. In fact, Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Hittites, and others offer us important material on this subject.


(i) Meso potamia, Egypt, and the Hittites The most famed are the historiographic writings from Sumer, l3abylon, and Assyria.!oo The Babylon ian Chronicle exists in a series of successive cu neiform tablets for the period from Nabonassar down to Seleucus 111,747-224, but with considerable gaps once filled by tablets now lost to us. It proceeds year by year (with omissions), each annual section ruled off by a line from the next, and beginn ing with the year date of the reign ing king, king by king . This series is noteworthy for its high level of detached objectivity. It records Babylonian defeats and disasters, not just successes; it never invokes deity as "efficient cause" of the events narrated, which gives its entries a "modern" appearance. As Grayson has pointed out, this series is not itself the ultimate chronographic source in Babylonia (any more than was Kings in ludahllsrael), but drew upon a more extensive series of running reports, possibly such as astronomical diaries, that included all manner of information month by month (cf. the Kings mention of more extensive "annals" or daybooks of their kings). He cited the existence of common matter (and expressions) as between the Babylonian Chronicle no. 1 and an Esarhaddon Chro nicle and the "Akitu Chronicle," and of additional matter not present in the Babylonian Chronicle but either unique to the Esarhaddon Chronicle or to it and the Akitu one.101 Such data must have been drawn independently ofBabylonian Chronicle no. !, from a more extensive third SOUTce. That situation is amply replicated in the data preserved in the bib lical 1-2 Chronicles but is not present in 1- 2 Kings, especially details (like the Su kkiyim of 2 Chron . 12:3) known to be authentic from other sources. [n such cases the Chronicler clearly drew upon other original sources (or passages in them) not used in Kings. There are other types of chronicles in Mesopotamia, such as the Esarhaddon Chronicle showing this Assyrian king in a more favorable light than the Babylonian Chronicle does, by omitting episodes unfavorable to Esarhaddon so as to highlight his better side. But themes shared in common are often word for-word identical; occasional changes appear. This is similar to biblical Chronicles highlighting David's positive achievements, for didactic purposes, but omitt ing his lapses (except over a census, 1 Chron. 21) . The oldest way of counting the years of kings in Mesopotamia was to name each year after a significant event (a battle, building a temple, etc.), and then to compile lists of year names for back reference. Such lists for successive kings of a dynasty could be summarized into king lists by totaling the number of years for each monarch and listing just their names, reign lengths, and a fina l total of rulers and years overall. Lists of year names, in principle, formed a rudimentary chronicle, and such compilations may have been the precursors of the later chronicles based on running records of all events deemed noteworthy.102

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For Egypt we can go back to the beginnings almost directly. As in Mesopotamia, years were first named after events (again, after battles, buildings, festivals, etc.). Lists were evidently kept, and from these a year-by-year chronicle could be kept for administrative purposes. Eventually such a ch ronick or annals of Egypt's first five dynasties - from the beginning of the pharaonic mon archy to the height of the Pyramid Age (ca. 3000-2500) - were transferred onto stone monuments, of which fragments have survived, the most famous being the Palermo Stone. 103 Such daybooks were maintained through t he centuries (on papyrus), from which annals, etc., could be excerpted and carved on stone. From the Middle Kingdom, under Amenemhat II (ca. 1900), we have just two such stones, fragments of the record of two years in his reign (year numbers are not preserved) . These, again, record endowments for temples, tribute from Nubia, army campaigns into the Levant, etc. And, as with the Palermo Stone annals of the Pyramid Age, here too all is expressed in a dry, laconic manner. Precisely as in Mesopotamian running chronicles, deity is never invoked as an active factor. 104 We come now to the Hittites and Phoenicians. While not strictly annalistic, the Bilingual Edict of Hanusil [ (seventeenth/sixteenth century) deals with family history, seeking to secure the succession; it, too, makes no invocation of deity, but merely insists that the proper offerings be maintained .i05 Daybooks and running accounts were evidently kept for commercial purposes by the Phoenician kings; witness Zakir-baal of l3yblos taking Ollt his scrolls to look up the past daybooks, to check prices paid by earlier Egyptian envoys for his timbers, in the story of Wenamun. 106

(ij) Deities Intervene Everyw here!

However, ancient kings had to justify their deeds on high. They were deemed by the ancient peoples to be the go-betweens between the people and those invisible higher powers who seemed inscrutably to rule their world, manifested in t he wonders and terrors of nature. The kings had, it seemed, to keep two constituencies happy: their subjects and the gods . Thus the personal annals of specific kings readily gave credit to, or claimed justification by, the role played by invisible powers. In Egypt the Karnak annals of Tuthmosis III give a vivid, straightforward account of his famous Battle of Megiddo, and briefer acounts of his later campaigns up to Phoenicia, Qadesh, and the river Euphrates. But at various points in his otherwise mund ane narrative the king mentions (at scat tered intervals) going forth at the god Amun's command, or Amun going before him and nerving his arm (while Re encouraged the army), or Amun guarding him in the heat of battle, or the defeated chiefs overawed by Amun . Of the 47


general historicity of the narrative there can be no doubt; these scattered phrases are simply expressions of the king's faith in the justness of his cause, viewed as endorsed by his deity.107 The same applies to Ramesses II at his notorious Battle of Qadesh . The accounts of Qadesh make no appeal to deity whatever, except for the king's urgent prayer to Amun in his moment of crisis (if we leave aside mere similes).I08 The Hittite royal annals show a similar situation. For example, the TenYear Annals of Mursil 11 (turn of fourteenth to thirteenth century) give a straight, concise first -person narrative of the king's successive campaigns in his first ten years. At the beginning he invokes the su n goddess of Arinna as his patron; for each year (so far as preserved), Mursil claims in almost stereotyped fash ion that he was victorious because the sun goddess, storm god, Mezulla, and the gods went before him. This apart, the gods play almost no direct part in his narrative; just once a lightning bolt struck Ephesus, then a city in Arzawa, which Mursil attributed to divine intervention (middle of Year 3).109 In Mesopotamia again, the Assyrian annals of successive kings give itineraries of their campaigns to many places and targets that can be found on our maps. Battles are fought but not always won, as the Assyrians would have us believe (e.g., Qarqar in 853, when the Levantine coalition stopped Shalmaneser III in his tracks). Alongside many conventional descriptions (and statistics that (an vary), these campaign reports (ontain a large amount of good firsthand information. Yet at intervals the Assyrian kings also attribute this or that success to the overwhelming splendor of their god Assur, or of his terrible weapon . In his campaign against Hezekiah of Judah and allies in 70], Sennacherib did just this, "trusting in Assur my lord." That he did so has no bearing whatsoever on the historicity of his main account, successively conquering Phoenicia (except Tyre island), then Joppa and Ekron, and Lachish. llo

We return to ]-2 Kings and related texts. Several important points become clear. First, it was common custom for ancient kingdoms (from the third millennium onward) to keep a series of running records for hardheaded, administrative purposes, on a daily, monthly, and annual basis. Naming of years after significant events, and compiling lists of these years with their events, perhaps formed rudimentary chronicles that recorded actual facts and happenings of all kinds. Daybooks became customary, whether called such or not, in the guise of running records as in first -m illennium Babylonia, or annotated lists of annual eponym officers in Assyria. From these detailed running series of "annals" a variety

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the Era of the Hebrew Kingdoms

of writers could draw, in order to compose their own works on historical matters. Such efforts could vary from such as the Babylonian Chronicle, which gave a compact, objective digest of mainl y political events (military ollnpaigns by successive kings, etc.), to more part isan texts as in the Synchronous History (Grayson, no. 21, probably derived from a stela) asserting Assyrian military and moral ascendancy over Babylonia. Or we find "special interest" chronicles, such as the Akitu Chronicle (no. 16), whose author noted years in which the Akitu feast of Marduk was not celebrated in Babylon, along with contemporary events, and the "Religious Chronicle" (no. 17), whose author noted celebration or otherwise of temple feasts and was obsessed with wild animals straying into Babylon (and there killed), among other phenomena. lll So too with biblical Kings and Chronicles . These works are not the official annals of Israel and Judah, but they explicitly refer their readers to the official annals or daybooks (Heb. "daily affairs") of the kings of Israel and of Judah. From Wenamun, it is clear that the kings of Byblos in the early eleventh century kept daybooks, incorporating records of past sales of timber to foreign kingdoms such as Egypt. At t wo removes, the king list of Tyre cited by Josephus after Menander of Ephesus ( from the latter's history of Tyre and neighbors) d early draws upon quite accurate tradition when compared with other evidence. NeoHittite kingdoms such as Carchemish, Malatya, and Gurgum maintained their royal traditions, as is implied by their known hieroglyphic texts.ll~ Thus there is good reason to credit Israel and Judah with t he same practices as everyone else in their world, namely, keeping running records upon which others (such as the authors of Kings and Chronicles) could draw for data in writing their own "special interest" works. To dismiss the references to these "annals" of Israel and Judah is wholly unjustified in this cultural context. In terms of special interest, 1- 2 Kings present a sum mary of their nat ional history in terms of the loyalty or othenvise of successive rulers to the national covenant with their god, YHWH. It is often called the "Deuteronomic History," which is much too narrow a term, because the same basic covenant is visible in Exodus-Levit icus (set in Sinai) as well as more coherently in Deuteronomy, summarized extremely briefly in the renewal in Josh . 24, and treated as the basis of their recall of the Hebrews to their deity by the "preaching" prophets, symbolized at their peak by such as Isaiah and Jeremiah. l I ) And it is too narrow a term because much in the so-called Deuteronomic religious concept is long known in neighboring religions and cultures, go ing back into the second millennium or beyond. As in the Near Eastern chronicles, the writers of Kings (and Chron icles) had no need to invent history; they merely interpreted it in terms of the beliefs they sought to express. Asc riptions of help to deity's intervention in the histo rical narratives in


Kings and elsewhere in the Old Testament have been too easily dismissed by O ld Testament scholars as nothing more than late embell ishments added to the text (or invented wholesale) by subsequent theologically minded editors or rewriters. The account of Sennacherib versus Hezekiah is just sllch a case. The introductory verses of 2 Kings 18:13-1 6 have purely human actors, very concise. But the longer narrative in 18:17- 19:37 includes Hezekiah's appeal to the prophet Isaiah, who delivers an oracle of deliverance from YHWH; Hezekiah taking the Assyrian response to YHWH's temple with prayer; and Isaiah giving an oracle with YHWH's reply of full deliverance. Then, as sequel, "the angel of YHWH" smote the Assyrian army. A discomfited Sennacherib returned to Nineveh. The divine element has been condemned as essentially religious fiction by some. Why, then, do such critics not also condemn the narratives by the scribes of Sennacherib? Have they not been embellished decades later, too? Of the ludean campaign, they write in Sennacherib's name: "[n my 3rd campaign, I marched against Palestine ('Hattu'). The fearful radiance of my lordly splendour overwhelmed LuJi King of Sidon, and he fled overseas .. . . The utter dread of the weapon of my Lord (god) Ashur ... overwhelmed his strong cities." Later "in the plain of Eltekeh, (the hostile allies) d rew up their ranks against me .... Trusting in the god Ashur my Lmd, I fought with them and defeated them." This is every bit as theological as the role of YHWH in 2 Kings ]8- ]9 - but it was not written up twent y years later, as is charged against the Hebrew text Its first edition dates to 700, within a twelvemonth of the battles of 701! What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If Assyrian theological interpretation can be part of their original account, then exactly the same should apply to the Hebrew text. The point that, in its present form, the Hebrew account carries a brief codicil of twenty years later (2 Kings 19:37), recording the violent death of Sennacherib (in 681), is irrelevant, and has no bearing whatever on the main narrat ive originating in events of 701. We possess not only Sennacherib's theologically conditioned "first edition" of this campaign from 700, but also his "latest" (known) editions from 691 and 689, a dozen years later, They show no change whatever in their theological slant on this campaign .114 Thus 2 Kings 18:17- 19:36 may be every bit as authentic and early as 2 Kings ]8:13 -16. The author of the whole held his theological beliefs long before, during, and long after he wrote Lip that account just as his Assyrian opposite numbers held theirs before, while, and after com posing their accounts. The O ld Testament scholars got it wrong, through not knowing the actual usage of the epoch; and their view of theological fiction writing, alas, distorts the 1ctS. From Mesopotamia we also have both "secular" and "theologically tainted" reports on the same campaign from separate records. Thus the seventh campaign of Sennacherib was waged against Elam and its new king Kudur-nahhunte, who d ied shortly afterward. The Babylonian Chronicle

"/11 Medias Res" -

the Era of the Hebrew Kingdoms

no. I states the facts in th is brief, nontheological form (as [have just done). But Sennacherib in his annals gets theological : "In my 7th campaign, (the god) Ashur my Lord supported me ... against Elam .. .. At that time, at the command of Ashur my Lord, Kudur~nahhunte, King of Elam, did not (even) survive three months (more), but died suddenly."115 Ashur did for Kudur-nahhunte, just as YHWH's angel did for Sennacherib's troops, in the eyes of the Assyrian and Hebrew annalists respectively. The chronicle proves that Sennacherib's seventh campaign is no fiction . Thus the ancient writer's theological beliefs in each case have nothing to do with the reality of the events - only with the imputed cause behind the events. So we can no more dismiss 2 Kings 18- 19 (even if we bel ieve in neither YHWH nor his angel of death) than the annals of Sennacherib (even though nobody today believes in Ashur!), backed up as they are by the nontheological precis in the Babylonian Chronicle. In sho rt, the Hebrew narratives in Kings and Chronicles should be treated as impartially and fair ly as most properly knowledgeable Assyriologists, Hittitologists, and Egyptologists normally treat the firsthand and fully comparable ancient documents in their domain. Hypercriticism of t he Hebrew data is wrong in att itude, methods, and resu lts alike .llI;

Texts are not the only sources, not the only evidence, although they remain the most explicit. The ancient town mounds of Palesti ne contain their own physical narrative - of layer upon layer of successive human occupat ions through decades and centuries (even millennia). Each epoch had its own fashions in artifacts (pottery, tools, weapons), arch itecture, art, burial usages, and the rest . In the last century or more, much skilled work has gone into establishing sequences that can be dated either approximately or closely (depending on eircu mstances). Alongside the Israel and Judah of the Assyrian and Neo -Babylonian texts (and, t herefore, of t he Hebrew 1- 2 Kings also), it has been possible to establish a profile of material society, and of successive phases of human life (materially, occupat ion levels, st rata) during the entire period. We shall sketch this only briefl y, to etch out the more significant "pegs" upon which a profile can be outlined. ll7

(i) Individual Site Profiles, 0-900+


Here we shall outline the ups and downs of actual occupation histories of various sites where there are good sequences and one can correlate these "histories"


with externlll, nonbibliclll, dll\ed, written records. Bibliclll references will be omitted except where "outside" written datll impose themselves, so to spellk . In each case we will go back through time (just as archaeologists dig!) from a fixed baseline. Then the "profile" can be summarized.

(a) Jerusalem
Roman, Herodian, Hasmonean (Maccabean), and Seleucid/Ptolemaic (Hellenistic) Jerusalem back to the conquest of the Persian Empire by Alexander the Great (332-323) is all well attested (artifacts, buildings, tombs; all the classical sources), needing no comment here. Before 330 we hllve the two hundred or so years of the Persian Empire, when Judah (centered on Jerusalem) was but a province (Yehud ) in the satrapy of Ebir-nari ("Trans-Euphrates"), for which traces of buildings, etc., lire known, including in the old "City of David" (stratum 9); cf. chapter 3 for this period. I1S Before thllt time (539) Jerusalem was a heap of ruins, and destruction layers gmphically mark the end of its Iron 1113 existence (including City o f David, st ratum lOA) as from the final NeoBabylonian conquest in 587/586. In level lOA, thus sealed in by destruction debris, finds included seal impressions of characters known from this period (ca. 610-585) in 2 Kings, Jeremiah, etc. (Gemariah son of Shaphan, Berechiah [Baruch ] aide to Jeremiah, and others).119 Strata 12 to lOB run through the eighth-seventh centuries and show (from the late eighth century) a sudden expansion of the city to cover not only the long, narrow City of David but also the hills west of that ancient nucleus, a "maxi-jerusalem" that lllsted some 120 to 140 years to the crash in 586. Clellrly an additional population had crowded into the jerusalem zone. Significantly the kingdom of lsrael/l3it-Khumri/Samaria was ended by the Assyrians in 722, with considerable deportations (as they make clear). Seemingly some survivors went south to attach themselves to the Judean capital. Level 13 before all this goes back into the ninth century, and level 14 to the tenth, the reputed date of the united monarchy (cf. chap. 4 below) .

(b) Lachish
This site runs parallel to Jerusalem. Its st ratum I covers (modestly) the Hellenistic period back into Persian times. [n the Persian period a Syro-Persian residency, temple, and new walls and gate were built, replacing the ruins of the Neo- Babylonian conquest of 586. That event brought the final, fiery destruction of city level II; from the gatehouse Tuins come the Lachish ostraca, with

"/11 Medias Res" -

the Era of the Hebrew Kingdoms

their remarks about "fire-signals" (as in jer. 6:1) and princes "weakening the hand" (i .e., morale) of others (as was said of Jeremiah, 38:4). After an interval, level 11 had been a rebuild of the level III city - the Lachish of Hezekiah and his foe Sennacherib of Assyria . Sennacherib commemorated his storming of Lachish in a famous palace relief. Hezekiah (named by the Assyrians in 701) had fortified and provisioned his cities, and many scores of storage jars exist from this end-of-eighth -century time, bea ring the royal stamp I-mlk, "Of the King" (cf. our "OHMS"). Before level III and the eighth century, levels [V and V go back through the ninth and possibly the tenth centuries, but dating them any more precisely is currently mere conjecture.l2

(c) Haw r

We go north into Gali[ee to a site with a dense, continuous series of occupations. Hazo r level [ belongs to the Hellenistic period, mentioned under the Maccabees ( Hasmonean kings) . Level II is of the Persian period, marked by art ifacts and tombs. Prior to that, level III was a foreign military outpost, replacing local squatters (level IV) on the ru ins of Hazer's last true city, level V. This Hazer perished in fiery destruction (as the remains show) when Tiglathpileser III devastated Galilee in 733. Further back in the eighth century the prosperous Hazar level VI had been dest royed by an earthquake - precisely what t he prophet Amos used to date his book, "two years before the earthquake, when Uzziah was king of Judah and Jeroboam (II) son of Jehoash was king of Israel" (Amos 1:1) . These kings overlapped (on our dates) during 776-750, which would fit very well with the dat ing of the end of Hazar VI (and rebu ild in V ) at some interval before Hazar Vended in 733. Before Hazar V[ (and the eighth century), we have alternating periods of high and [ow life in Hazar. Jeroboam II's well -appointed level VI had refurbished a seedier level VII. This, in turn, had followed on a splendid level VIII Hazor, whose main building had a royally fine entrance with massive Proto- Ionic capitalled pillars. Back now in the ninth century, this would fit such known builder kings as Omri and Ahab. Before their fresh enterprise there existed a seedier leve[ IX, but it existed in two phases, which pushes us back to the beginning of the ninth century at [east. The two-phased level X before it (a new, fortified city in its time) would then have to belong to at least the later tenth century, reputedly the united monarchy period (cf. chap. 4 below).12 1



(d) Dan Farther north sti ll, Dan complements Hazer. Dan existed in Hellenistic times (from the third century B.C.), being a mere village in Roman times. And back in the Persian period, almost nothing is known (yet). Tell Dan (Iron Age II) level I was the time of Assyrian provincial rule (after Tiglath-pileser Ill's conquest in 733/732), and this city lasted through the seventh century unt il nearer 600, when it may have suffered at the hands of the Babylonians. Before all this Dan level II flourished in the main part of the eighth century until 733/732, when its gateway was destroyed in the Assyrian onslaught on Galilee. (Possible earthquake traces would agree with a date under Jeroboam II; cf. Hazar VI, above.) Earl ier still, in the ninth to early eighth centuries, level III had been a period of much building, of walls and gates and rebuilding of the supposed ba1llal!sanctuary (Omride Dynasty again?). Level IVA before it (later tenth into ninth century) had the first building of the balllah-sanctuary, a complex destroyed by fire, with "wanton destruction" (Biran), such that the rebuild (level III) was needed thereafter. On the dating as requi red by pottery types, and sequence of dated levels III-II, etc., level IVA and its first religious complex (end of tenth century) would have been the sanctuary established by Jeroboam I, while its destruction was probably the work of Ben had ad I of Aram -Damascus, called in by Asa of Judah against Jeroboam I (1 Kings 15:20). Other building works at Dan in the preceding level IVB would take us back reputedly to the united monarchy (chap. 4, below).122

(e) Cabul and Its Land

Surveys in Lower Galilee and excavations at selected sites indicate a tenth-toninth century occupation with certain types of pottery (Gal 1988/89, nos. 3 and 9), plus the "hippo" jars in the late tenth/early ninth centuries (Alexandre), followed by occupation that used in the eighth century other types ( Gal, nos . 6, 10). Gal could establish that of some th irty-six sites flourishing from the tenth into the middle of the ninth century, just over half were destroyed, while the rest continued in use until the late eighth cent ury - nothing much survived into the seventh. Intervention by the Aramean kings of Damascus against Israel (as under Ahab, within 875-853) might well have caused destruction of Galilean settlements (cf. I Kings 20; 22). One destroyed permanently then was Khirbet Rosh Zayit (the Cabul of Solomon and Hiram). But the late -eighth -century destruction would, again, be that attested for Tiglath -pileser II I in 733/732.123

"/11 Medias Res" -

the Era of the Hebrew Kingdoms

Here we return south and to the seaside, south from Mount Carmel. Dor, too, had a long history, Phoenicians being its main population from the mid~e1eventh century. Aga in, down to Hellenistic times via the Ptolemies of Egypt and Seleucids of Syria, to be taken by Alexa nder Janneaus of Judea. Before this, "in the Persian period, Dor continued as the principal port of the Carmel coast" (Stern), of which extensive remains survive. Before this Dar served the Neo-Babylonian conquerors, before whom (605 and following) it may have had relations with Josiah of Judah (Judean weight, area B). In 733/732 our constant companion Tiglath -pileser 111 had sacked Dor (with others), but it arose again as a port and a local Assy rian governorate until Josiah and the Babylonians. During the ninth and eighth centu ries Dor was seem ingly under Israelite control, or served as port; traces of structures of th is period resemble the work of Omri/Ahab elsewhere. This new phase appears to have followed the destruction (late tenth century, by Egypt's Shoshenq I?) of the previous city, which would (again) in principle bring us back to the united monarchy period. 1z4

(g) Gezer

Farther south but inland is the notable strong po int of Gezer. Like others, Gezer (strata I][ -[t) is attested in the Hellenistic/Hasmonean period, when it was a waned, defended city. Before that, under the Persians, Gezer level IV is poorly attested (some walls, rich tombs) . The place lay desolate after the Baby[onian destruction (probably 586) of Gezer level V, which was a modest successor (under t he Assyrians and maybe Josiah) to level VI, the city destroyed by (who else!) Tiglath-pileser 111,733/732. This was preceded by level VII (ninth century; new gate and residency), built after the fie ry destruction of level VIII - supposedly by Shoshenq I of Egypt, making VIII Solo monic, in the wake ofthe destruction of a modest level IX (by Siamun of Egypt?) still earlier (but see chap. 4 on these matters). Gezer was not intensively occupied in any of these periods, or since the Philistine period (stratum Xll, ending twelfth/eleventh centuries).12S

(h) Samaria

This site had a limited history in Old Testament times. Herod rebuilt it as Sebaste in honor of Caesar Augustus, before wh ich the Hasmonean king John Hyrcanus had destroyed the essentially Greek settlement of Alexander the


Great . Previously Samaria was the center of the Persian province of that name, just north of Judah (see chap. 3 below) . Of Babylonian rule, litt le is so far known, and not too much under the Assyrians who ended the kingdom of Israel in 722 (Assyrianizing pottery; part of a stela Iof Sargon II ]) . The Babylonian chronicle has that event under Shalmaneser V (like 2 Kings 17), while Sargon II claims credit for finishing the job. The site that the Assyrians stormed is marked by a series of palace buildings in an enclosure. The archaeology has proved difficult, technically. We do have three broad phases. (1) Preroyal, before 880, modest (pr ivate) occupation (pottery phases 1 [eleventh -tenth centuries ] and 2 lea. 1000 -8801). (2) Royal palace buildings, 880 -722 (pottery phases 3-6; building phases I-V). (3) Post royal, after 722 (pottery phases 7-8; building phases VI -VII, 722-600 ; VIII, 600-587) . A critical review of the disputed inner dating of (2) would suggest dating pottery phase 3 to 875-800 (buildings I-II, Omri/Ahab; buildings III I?), Jehu, Jehoahaz); then pottery phases 4-6 to circa 815-722 (buildings IV I+a l, Joash , Jeroboam II; V, down to Hoshea).126

(i) Ti rzah Tirzah was the capital of Israel before Samaria, with a longer histor y in the Old Testament period . Before stray finds of Greco-Roman date, Tirzah (Tell el-Far'ah North) period VIle (former stratum I) followed the Assyrian conquest of 722, a nd was an Assyrian garriso n-outpost (usi ng Assyrian-style pottery) during the seventh century. In the sixth, the place declined into a modest affair of local squatters (VIIel) . The phase VJId (former stratum 2) had been a well-appointed town, with the building of an entirely new palace (Vllc), and fine houses, of the ninth/eighth centuries down to the Assyrian destruction Of722 (Shalmaneser V/Sargon II). This dating suggests a revival ofTirzah under Jeroboam I!. Before this, early ninth century, VIIc had seen a new start (after destruction of Vllb), with the beginning of a palace, maybe unfinished. The phase Vilb (former stratum III) has been assigned to the tenth/early ninth centuries. It marked a period of renewal and refurbishment but was destroyed. Such a dating suggests that Vllb is the capital of Jeroboam I and successors; its destruction may reflect the rebel Zimri's fiery end (I Kings 16:18), after which (when Tibni was done with) Omri began a palace at Tirzah before choosing Samaria. Before all this, phase VIla (former stratum IV ) had been a township of the twelfth/eleventh centuries. 127


"/11 Medias Res" -

the Era of the Hebrew Kingdoms

(j) Timnah
We now go back soutll\vest, close to Ph ilistia. Tel Batash has been plausibly identified as ancient Timna . It ended (level 1) with scanty traces of the Persian period, and possibly of squatters during the Neo-Babylonian domination, after the destruction of the last true "city" ofTimna (level II) that had lasted about a century (from ca . 700) unt il the Babylonians destroyed it probably within circa 605-600. Timnah level III had been a walled city from at any rate the eighth century; it was provisioned with supplies in I-mlk ("OHMS") jars before 701, as part of Hezekiah's resistance movement against Sennacherib reported by the latter. In his campaign in 701, Sennacherib boasts of capturing Timnah. He destroyed it only in part: the inner gate, a public building, and the /- mlk jarstores. But Timnah survived to live into the seventh century ( as level II for us). Levell!I had two phases (ll and A), marked by repairs and/or refurbishment; the famous earthquake of the mid- eighth century (under UzziahlJeroboam II) may have been the cause. 128

(ii) The Resultant Overall Arc haeological

Profile and Its OT Counterpart

The time has come to bring together the sample often individual site "profiles" (only space forbids doing some more!) into a n overall picture, and then to com pare this archaeological "basic" profile or port rait with the history that was checked against external written sources above. Table 4 (on p. 58) presents a graphic chart (ca. 1000 to the beginn ing of the Persian period) of the ten sample sites whose archaeological history was sketched above. In this table, the following abbreviations and symbols are used . UM = reputed united monarchy (specifically Dav id and Solomon's reigns); Reh = Rehoboam; KhRZ = Khirbet Rosh Z'yit; Om/Ahab = reigns of Omri and Ahab, and work of their day; Jer [[ = Jeroboam II's reign, and works of that t ime; Uzz = Uzziah, similarly; Phoen = time of Phoenician rule; a zigzag line across the columns for Dan, Hazar, Lachish, and Timnah '" probable/possible earthquake traces, chronologically linkable with that mentioned in Amos 1:1, within circa 770-760; Assyr = Assyrian rule and/or settlement; Neo-Bb (and/or desIT.) = Neo-Babylonian rule (and/or destruction interval); P. Pers. = Persian period . Close, horizontal double lines mark a destruction, and particularly those wrought by enemy forces . Wider sections of columns reflect periods of greater occupation and (usually) prosperity; narrower segments reflect less occupation, and often "poorer" periods. Dotted marginal lines indicate times of abandonment ("gap") or minimal occupation.


Table 4. Individ ual Site Profi les, ca. 1000-500 B.C.

1000 On

C.bu l _








N , , ,
, 1 ,

J ~lm

.... thlsh

T_h.,na~ ~



92S ~










1- ~ I




= ~

I "








800 780











iliA 133


















"/11 Medias Res" -

the Era of the Hebrew Kingdoms

Bearing in mind the actual finds at the sites (in the excavation reports, and official summaries such as appear in NEAHL 1-4), which our summaries and chart can only "skeletonize,"we begin to see an over:l[] profile. At the end of our sequence, the identity of the Persian -period occup:ltion of sites (539 :lnd following) and e:lrlier of the imp:lct of Neo-Babylonian destruction at various places (and ongoing rule in some) are in both cases established beyond any reasonable doubt. The Babyloni:ln impact W:lS felt during 605 (when they first invaded) down to 586 (end of the judean kingdom) . Before that period, we have to go back to the late eighth century (733, 722, 701) for explicitly datable archaeological links with external documentary history and chronology. First, in 701 Sennacherib claimed to have destroyed a number of judean towns, and (in the famous British Museum scene) Lachish in particular. It is clear archaeologically that Lachish city II followed [II at an interval, and was the one that Nebuchadrezzar II's forces destroyed, while llS years earlier it was Lachish III that fell to a massive Assyrian onslaught in 701 (their siege ramp is there "unto this day," as the ancient phrase would run). Lachish III was founded well before t hat event, at a date not yet established . Second, in 722 the siege and capture of Samaria (and end of the Israelite kingdom ) was achieved in the last year of Shalmaneser V, whose throne and victory were alike usurped by Sargon I I (coup d'etat), who brought away a good number of captives and crushed final dissent by 720. Thus the palace-building era at Samaria ended by then. Of those buildings (as currently understood), there were in effect four phases: buildings If[[ (:lnd pottery phase 3), the original major works; then III (also pots phase 3); then further work, buildings IV (pottery phases 4-5); and a final, lesser phase V (pots phase 6) by Samaria's fall. This fourfold sequence would correspond to that of (i) Omri and Ahab and dyn:lsty, as founders and main builders; then (ii) to the poorer time of Jehu (afflicted by Arameans and Assyrians); then (iii) to the better times of /erobo:lm II and his line; then finally (iv) to the unstable, last kings ending with Hoshea. In the external records, as we have already seen, the sequence Omri, Ahab, Joram, Jehu, jO:lsh (father of Jeroboam II), Menahem, Pekah, :lnd Hoshe:l is well attested and dated; so the overall sequence at Samaria is thus broadly dated (outside of fine tuning on technical details) during circa 870 -720. This has wider impact (see below). But in 722, the end of the northern Hebrew kingdom led to some of its remnant migrating into the surviving southern kingdom (Judah) and to the environs of Jerusalem. It is no accident that Jerusalem suddenly and dramatically expanded in area (onto the western hill) by 700, and stayed large until the Babylonian onslaughts. Here we have a "refugee" reflex of the fall of Israel in 722. Third, in 733/732 Tiglath -pileser III was actively subjugating and destroy59


ing places in Galilee and around . For that lime, Ihis activity shows up in a series of destructions in the archaeological record . Dan II perished, and Hazor V was left feet deep in ashes. The surviving series of settlements in Lower Galilee came to a virtually final end, until Persian times. Dor felt the Assyrian impact, but (as a valuable port facility) was able to continue under Assyrian rule, as it did under both earlier and later regimes. The cities that came to an end in 733 had been p:lrt of a period of some prosperity before that time - a period (C) which in turn (at times after a lesser interv:ll) had been preceded by :lnother epoch of prosperity (ll). (Much earlier was another, "A".) The last such period ("C") fits well that of the line of Jeroboam II; so at Dan II, H:lzor Vl -V, Dor, Tirzah Vlld (latter half), and correspondingly Uzziah's time as at Timnah IIIB/A. In just this period (about mid-eighth centu ry), traces of damage have been noticed in the town ruins of Dan 11, dividing between Hazer VI and V, and Timnah IIIB/A (perhaps = end of Lachish IV, start of Lachish III?). Such an earthquake is reported as a casual date line under precisely Jeroboam II and Uzziah in Amos 1: 1. This ag rees well with the general archaeological dating and possible traces. Before our prosperity-period C, we have (sometimes) a lesser interv:l j preceded by a prosperity -period B. This earlier period embraces the buildings 1/11 opening phase at Samaria, of Omri and Ahab. Along with it go the parallel periods of major buildings, etc., at Dan (Ill), at Hazar (VllJ), contemporary Dor, and Tirz:lh VII"c" (abandoned for Sam:lria?), etc . In between we have Samaria III :llld Hazor V[I, which prob:lbly reflect the less h:lppy times of Jehu . Fin:llly, before the Omri-Ah:lb horizon, we are again confronted by two phases of prior occupation history: a "fou nding" or prosperous one ("A") and an intermediate one after it. Destructions by Shoshenq I of Egypt in some cases divide between the two. This is visible:lt Dan, [VB then [VA; at Hazor, XA/B then [XA/i3; throughout in Lower Galilee (first long phase, including Cabull Khirbet Rosh Zayit); Gezer VIII, then lesser VII; Timnah IV (prosperous phase, then long gap); and probably L1chish V, then IV (a Rehoboam fort). As Omri-Ahab begin about 880 (buildingwise, at least), these sometimes multiple phases go through a mere twenty years, well back through the tenth century, toward the pre-RehoboamlJeroboam I beginnings of the Hebrew monarchy. This is the general date when the so-called united monarchy of David and Solomon must have ruled, if it existed in any meaningful form. But tha t belongs to chapter 4. Our case here is merely to exhibit the archaeological sequence of Iron II (B/C) Canaan alongside the external references to that land, and also to the established sequence of rulers in 1- 2 Kings that those external sources have validated. See now table 5 on page 61.


"/11 Medias Res" -

the Era of the Hebrew Kingdoms

Table 5. Ou tlin e CQrrelatio n of Archa eological Data, Externa l Written Sou rces, a nd Biblical Data Archaeologica l Data
10th celli.

Nea r Eastern Tex ts (Assyria, not yet in soulhwesl lvanl; no foreign sources in Egypt, sillce SiamuII; 110 Ararnean sources yet) Shoshenq ], invasion of Canaan, ca. 926/925. {Assyria not yet in SOllthwest Levam; no Aramean sources yel)

OT Data (Reputedly, united monarchy of David & Solomon, see dlal), <1 ; start oflwin kingdoms, IsraeUJudah )


Period 'A

(Dan IVB; Hawr XNB; Cabul lSI phaS(> I; 001; Tirlah Vllb; Gezer VII); lachish V; Timnah IV )

91h cellts.

An imermed. phllse A. starts after a deslruc lioll (Shoshenq I?). (Dan IVA; Hawr IXN H; Cabullsl phase 2; Dor; Tirlah VII b [COIII.]; Ikhoboam, Lachish IV?) Dan Ill; 1 lawr VJ][; Dor; Samaria bldgs 1111. bllermetl. plUlse B. Sa llla r~l Ill; Hazor VII; others, COllI.

Shishak's (S hoshenq I's) invasion from Egypl. Twin kingdOllls bickering; in volvc<1 wilh Ar<llllDaUlascus

9th celie

phll;e B

(i) Omri, Ahab, in texts of Shalmallcser Ill; Mesha OJ} khu in texIs, d. Tell Dall and of Shahnaneser Ill. Texts of '-la7.a('[ of Aram

Israel under Olllri DylIasly; and Mcsha of Moab. Jehu reilloves kings of Israel and Ju dah; Arameans trouble him, e.g., Hazad

81h (011 .

Prosperity plmse C

Dan 11; Hawr VI-V; Dor; TiTlah Vl ld; Samaria IV; Tilllnah IllBI A; J('rusalclll 12. Earthquake, mid- eighth ccnl.

Adad-nirMi II! men ns Joash (lthcI of kroboam II); lknhadad III on Zakkur stela (Ma ri of Assyria). Samaria ostraca; seal ofJeroboam II I"ig lath-pilcscr III on Galik-I', etc, and reo Mcnahclll, P('kah, Hoshea (and Ahaz ill Judah ). Fall of Samaria Shahn. V/Sargon II. Sennachcrib vs. Hezekia h, and fall of Lachish SC(,lle. Bulla(' of Jolhalll, Ahaz, Hezekiah Esarhaddon texts; Babylonian Chroniclc, to 594; Hcbrew seals; Lachish ostr.

Period ofprosl'erity, linc of Jeroboam !I of Isracl, alld with Uzz~lh ill Judah


7JJ: end of Da n II,

1lalOr V, Cablll -area; ctp Dor; G('zcr VI 721.: end, Samaria V, TiTla Vlld JOJ: cnd, l<lchish Ill; Timnah iliA

m ill Galilee, Gilead,

OT rep<>rts on Tig. -pil.

clc, and on Mcnahclll, Pekah, Hoshea; and Ahaz in Judah. Fal! of Samaria. OT reports on Hc7.cki,lh vs. Sennacherib

Jw/alr! Babylml to (lid

Lachish II ; Gczcr V; jcrus,llem II 10; Timnah [[

OT, to end of Assyria; takeover and conqucst by Babylon, 597 and, finally, 586



Now we must step back from all the detail and look at the whole picture so far. For close to 350 years (ca. 930~586) we have taken the series of Hebrew and foreign rulers, as found in 1- 2 Kings (and paralleled in ] - 2 Chronicles), and exam ined them and their histories from several angles. With what result? We may enumerate as follows . a. Foreign /(ulers in the Hebrew /(ecord. Out of twenty foreign rulers (and a general), all but two (or three?) duly turned up in the external records available to date, usually on their home patch (Assyrians in Assyrian records, etc.). This is a highly satisfactory standard. Of the missing men, the general (Zerah), probably from Egypt, belongs to a period in wh ich knowledge of the Egyptian military is currently close to zero (certainly for foreigners so employed). And Benhadad I (and/or II) came from before 853, when Assyrian records begin for Aram -Damascus, and before we have any local Aramaic historical records whatsoever, so far. Whatever is still in the ground is just not available to us (as was the case with the Tell Dan stela until less than ten years ago) . b. Hebrew Kings ill External Records. Here the evidence began with Omri and Ahab, coming up to the mid- ninth century. Before that time no NeoAssyrian king is known to have penetrated the southwest Levant, to gain (or record) knowledge of any local king there . And it was not Egyptian custom to name foreign rulers unless they had some positive relationship with them (e.g., a treaty) . Foes were treated with (nameless) contempt. Therefore, under present conditions, we calmot expect to find any such mentions (Assyrian or Egyptian) of allY southwest Levant kings, biblical or otherwise, unless or unti l an Egyptian treaty were found with one of them or the Assyrians were found to have had some detailed contact as yet unknown, and so unavai lable to us currently. Under these conditions a negative knowledge is meaningless. But from 853 onward we do have some data. Some nine out of fourteen Israelite kings are named in external sources. Of the five missing men, three were ephemeral (Zechariah, Shallum, Pekahiah) and two reigned (Jehoahaz, Jeroboam II) when Assyria was not active in the southwest Levant . And one of these (Jeroboam II) is in any case known from a subject's seal stone. ludah was farther away than Israel, so the head count is smaller: from /ehoram I to Zedekiah we have currently mention of eight kings out of fifteen. Of the seven absentees, Uzziah is not certainly mentioned in Assyrian records, but he is known from his subjects' seals. Amaziah reigned during Assyrian absence from the southwest Levant; lotham came before Ahaz invited the Assyrians back, but is known from a bulla of Ahaz. Amon and Jeho -ahaz were ephemeral, while Josiah reigned during the Assyrian decline, without documentation by them of


"/11 Medias Res" -

the Era of the Hebrew Kingdoms

Levantine kings. But seal impressions and possib ly an ostracon come from his time. c. Local Uecords, Hebrew, etc. Some Illlve been cited already; kings lo ram I (and [I), Ahaziah [I, Uzziah, Jeroboam [I, Hoshea, lotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, are all known from seals and bullae, etc. d. Sequences of Nulers; Chronology. The time -line order of foreign rulers in !-2 Kings, etc., is impeccably accurate, as is the order of the Hebrew rulers, as attested by the external sources. As for chronology (dates u.c.), the elaborate date lines in ! - 2 Kings show a very high degree of consistency and reliability (tying in with external dates) when they are given proper study in terms of their own, ancient Near Eastern world and are treated in accordance with the wellestablished norms and usages of that world; remaining problems are very few, and can be left to future research. e. The Course of History, in Extertlal and Biblical Sources. Here were examined some ten different episodes tha t are attested both in the Hebrew text and in the contemporary external sources, on the basis of all the available data . In each case, when the total data had been collated, and careful distinction made between genuine overlaps from both sides and the complementary and additional data contributed by each lot of sources (biblical and external), a clear result emerged whereby repeatedly we gained a fulier, richer picture of the whole episode. There were no glaring errors, but certainly propaganda in SOme cases (more on the Near Eastern side). f. The Nature of the Sources. The sources themselves show clear affinit ies in the kind of records used. Ancient kingdoms (large and small) did maintain running records (daybooks, etc.), exactly as were the annals (o r daybooks) of Israel and Judah that are regularly cited as references by Kings and Chronicles. Scholars who would cavalierly dismiss such references are out of touch with the usage of three millennia (from the Palermo Stone to the Seleucid Babylonian chronicles), and thus go badly astray in their assessments of the origin and nature of the contents of Kings and Chronicles. Those two works are not themselves the annals of Israel and Judah, but are "special interest" works based on the original annals/daybooks, now lost to us exactly as in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and everywhere else. What has survived in the rest of the ancient Near East, as in Kings and Chronicles, is a series of special interest works that have drawn upon the running records. Those works include, e.g., the monumentalization in stone of parts of the Egyptian annals in the Old and Middle Kingdoms (Palermo Stone; annals extract of Amenemhat II), and of data from Tuthmosis Ill's Levant campaign daybooks in the New Kingdom, and the existing variety of chronicles from Mesopotamia, etc. By and large, the ancients did not invent spurious history, but normally were content to interpret real history, in accord with their


views. This is true right across the board, as in the full range of Egyptian, Hittite, and Mesopotamian war reports, etc., and in West Semitic inscriptions. Once detected, the viewpoint can be "peeled back" if need be and the basic history made clear, especially when we have multiple sources, from more than one vantage point. Thus, reading Kings and Chronicles is (or should be) no different from reading the Battle of Qadesh of Ramesses II, the Hittite treaty prologues and royal annals, or Assyrian war and building inscriptions. From the Moabite Stone we (as neutral historians, the only legitimate variety!) can set aside the credits given to Kemosh by Mesha, but we ignore his positive statements on wars and buildings at our peril. We may not believe in Amen- Re of Egypt or the storm god of Haiti, or in the effulgence of Ashur, but the military or other acts of a Tuthmosis, Mursil, or Shalmaneser must be assessed in their own right. Again, if one lays aside (as a secular historian) the credits given to YHWH in Kings and Chronicles, one may still read off the basic facts about wars, buildings, and the rest precisely as in the rest of the Near East, where these compositions are concerned. Overall, "Deuteronomists" and Chronicler(s) interpreted their people's history, they did /lot ned to make it up - the available data were ample for their purpose without need of such subterfuge. g. So wlJar? Therefore at this stage, and without prejudice as to what may yet be seen elsewhere, the basic presentation of almost 350 years of the story of the Hebrew twin kingdoms comes out under factual examination as a highly reliable one, with mention of own and foreign rulers who were real, in the right order, at the right date, and sharing a common history that usually dovetails together well, when both Hebrew and external sources are available. Therefore we have no valid reason to cast gratuitous doubt on other episodes where comparable external data are currently lacking, either because the records are long since destroyed or are still buried in the ground . All such episodes should be taken seriously, assessed objectively as to their nature, and compared with analogous material before passing judgment. They are likely to contain valuable in formation that we cannot afford to throwaway but need to be able to use in writing wider history.


Home and Away -

Exile and Return

Already, in the last 150 years of the divided and Judean monarchies, we have seen through Assyrian eyes (besides biblical ones) the imposition of exile - removal from their homeland - ofpeople(s) rebellious against their would-be overlords. Tiglath-pileser 1][ removed people from Galilee and environs in the 73os; Shalmaneser V and Sargon ]] between them sent away many Israelites to eastern lands in 722-720; and Sennacherib did this to Judah in 701. Tiglathpileser III took 13,;20 people (totaled from lesser amounts - 226, 400 + x, 656, and [lost] ).! Then Sargon II boasts of having removed 27,290 (var. 27,280) people from Samaria.2 And in 701 Sennacherib claimed to have reduced forty-six of Hezekiah's walled towns and to have taken 200,150 people from them .3 Such measures did not necessarily depopulate a given region enti rely, and some Assyrian kings brought in new populations from elsewhere (Sargon II and 2 Kings 17; contrast Tiglath-pileser III). But the "Assyrian exile" of both Israelites and ludeans was considerable - and in the former case, permanent. As we shall see (cf. chap. 6), neither the concept nor the practice of "exile" even began with these later Assyrian kings. It was already a m iIlennially old tradition, into which t he Babylonian ex.ile of the Judeans merely fits as one more such episode in a very long series, taking the long-term historical perspective.4 The difference is the close-up impact that the Judean exile to Babylon makes upon the modern reader, particularly in 2 Kings and Jeremiah.





0 ) The Biblical Accounts

These are 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, Jeremiah, and allusions in Ezekiel and Daniel. They have Nebuchadrezzar (II) of Babylon taking over the Levant, ousting the king of Egypt (cf. 2 Kings 24:1, 7), having lehoiakim of Judah as a vassal (cf. 2 Chron. 36:6-7, a threat of exile, not fulfil led), and taking away selected personnel and goods (cf. Dan. 1:1 -7) in 605/604. Then, three years later (by 601), Jehoiakim rebel led against Babylon (2 Kings 24:1) . He did not live to witness Babylonian retribution. That fell upon his youthful son and successor, Jehoiachin, whom Nebuchad rezzar carried off to Babylon (597) with his family, his courtiers and officials, a nd 10 ,000 other ranks that included 7,000 soldiers and 1,000 craftsmen and artisans (and mll ch loot), leaving only the ru ral popu lation behind (2 Kings 24:\0-16; 2 Chron. 36:\0; JeT. 24:1; 52:28, cit ing 3,023 people) . His uncle Zedekiah learned nothing from all this, but in tu rn rebelled (in conjunction with Hophra of Egypt, JeT. 44:30; cf. 37:5), only to bring down the wrathful Babylonian king aga in upon Jerusalem, who seized and destroyed that city ( in 5871586), carrying away the remnant of its inhabitants, 832 people; cf. 2 Kings 25:1-21; 2 Chron . 36 :17-20; Jer. 39 :1-40:6; 52:1 - 27, 29. Finally Nebuchadrezzar's appointee governor, Gedaliah, was murdered by a dissident party (2 Kings 25=22-26), which led to further punishment and 745 more exiles, fou r yea rs after Jerusalem's fall (Jer. 52:JO), in 582. Ezekiel dated various of his visions by years-of-exile of Jehoiachin (Ezek . ] : 2 and passim) . Finally, thirty-seven years after the young king was carried into captivity in 562, Nebuchadrezzar II's successor, Awel-Marduk ("Evil-Merodach"), released lehoiachi n from arrest and gave him a palace food allowance (2 Kings 25:27-30) . So far, the biblical data.

(ii ) External Background

The series of Babylonian invasions of the Levant from 605 down to 594 (after which date, the records are lost) is well attested, if in brief form, in the Babylonian Chronicles. s The chronicle recounts the Babylonian victory at Carchemish (in 605; British Museum 21946 = Chronicle 5) that en abled Nebuchadrezzar to oust Egypt from the Levant, chasing Egypt's forces to the region of Hamath and beyond and tak ing over "the whole area of the Hattu -land" (= Syr ia-Palestine).

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Exile and RetufIl

The death of Nabopolassar compelled Nebuchadrezzar to race back to Babylon to secure his throne, before returning to Syria-Palestine to en force his ru le and "take the massive booty" back to Babylon (as in Dan. 1:lff.). Then in his first to t hird years (604-602), Nebuchadrezzar returned each year to levy tribute and (in Year 2, 60) to besiege a city(name lost). But in Year 4 (60 1) Egypt and Babylon clashed in battle with such severe losses to both sides that the Babylonian army had to stay at home for a full refit the next year (600), with light skirmishes the next year (599). Thus, as 2 Kings 24:1 st ates, after th ree years as vassal to Babylon, lehoiakim of ludah rebelled - evidently after the clash of 60). Hence, of course, Nebuchadrezzar's determined reaction in his seventh year (598/597), when he "marched to the Hattu -Iand [Levant], besieged the city of Judah [Jerusalem], and captured the king" (by now, Jehoiachin, Jehoiakim having died). The young man was exiled to Babylon, as the chronicle reports that instead Nebuchadrezzar "appointed a(nother) king of his own choice" (= Zedekiah) and "received its (Judah's) heavy tribute, and sent (it) to Babylon," in ag reement with the report in 2 Kings 24:1). The chronicle reports further visits to t he Levant by Nebuchadrezzar in his eighth, tenth, and eleventh years (597 to 594), levying tribute regularly. For the numbers of Judeans exiled by Nebuchadrezzar II (especially in 597 and 586), we have no Babylonian statistics so far - only the Hebrew figures in 2 Kings 24:14, 16 and JeT. 52:28-)0. But these (7,000, 1,000, ),023, 831, 745 people) are entirely consistent in scale with the range of figures for deportations from Is rael practiced earlier by the Assyrian kings (cf. just above). Two facts here are worthy of comment: the relative modesty of almost all these figures compared to what the total populations of Israel/Samaria and JudahlJerusalem would have been; and the status of the people taken away, and those left behind. The idea t hat the Babylonians carried everybody from both Jerusalem and Judah off to Babylon is true neither archaeologically nor to the biblical text itself. In the Hebrew accounts, we read that "the poo rest people of the land were left (behind)" for 597 (2 Kings 24:14), and that "the commander [i.e., Nebuzaradan J left behind some of the poorest people of the land, to work the vineyards and fields" (2 Kings 25:12; Jer. 52:16). In other words, the land of Judah became in effect an imperial estate, to be cultivated for the profit of its conquerors by the local food producing community (farmers and pastoralists). Precisely such procedures had been followed by Egypt's New Kingdom pharaohs nearly a millennium before this, and in turn by the Assyrians. Empires were not run just to give ancient kings milita rily glorious ego trips, but to yield revenue! See further below. Nebuzaradan (also in Jer. 39:11 -13) is known from the Babylonian "court list" as Nabu-zer-iddin, a high officer of Nebuchadrezzar's adm inistration.6 The status of the people taken away to Babylon (roya lty and the court,


llrmy personnel, artisllns; cf. 2 Kings 24:14, 16) is significllnt, llnd very relldily pllrll[[eled from the external sources. Exiled were: (a) the rebel king llnd his governing circle, llS prisoners/hostages to be kept out of mischief, when not summarily execu ted (as in 2 Kings 25:18-21 =; Jer. 52:24-27); (b) military personnel, to be conscripted into the imperial army; and (c) "useful" people, artisans and craftsmen, musicians, cultivators, etc., to be redeployed in the conqueror's service. Regarding exiled rulers, 2 Kings (25:27-30) ends with Jehoiachin in Babylon being released by Awel-Marduk at his accession (562) into the court circle in Babylon, and being given his own regular allowance. This happened not for the first time, and he is not the only such person, as original Babylonian sources make clear. From a vaulted building closely adjoining the royal palace proper came a series of cuneiform tablets dated to the tenth to thirty-fifth years of Nebuchadrezzar II (595-570), being "rat ion tablets" for people kept or em ployed in Babylon and its palace. Among the beneficiaries in receipt of oil were "Jehoiachin king of Judah" (just once, "king's son of Judah") and "the 5 sons of the king of Judah in the care of (their guardian?) Qenaiah" (cf. fig . 1OC). Thus the exiled young king and his infant children were lliready on a regular allowance in Nebuchadrezzar's time (one tablet is of Year 13, 592), but under the palace equivalent of house arrest. They were not the only royalties there at that time; oil was issued to "2 sons of Aga, king of Ascalon ."7 As for the second category of exiles, redeployed military personnel, we go back briefly to Assyrian precedent . Tiglat h-pileser [[I may have taken Israel ite troops into service by 732; Sargon [[ conscripted Israelite chariots from fallen Samaria very explicitly, as from other defeated small states. This precedent was followed thereafter by other Mesopotamian rulers (e.g., Assurbanipal), hence too by Babylon .8 For the redeployed craftsmen, etc., we return to the Babylonian ration tablets cited for lehoiachin. Here we meet a series of men of different origins and occupations. With lehoiachin and family were Shelemiah a gardener and others untitled. From Philistine Ascalon came 3 sailors, 8 leaders, and an unknown number of chiefs of musicians . From Phoenicia, 126 Tyrians and x x 100 + 90 Tyrian sailors; 8 carpenters hailed from l3yblos and 3 from Arvad. From the east a leader, refugee, and 713 other men had come from Elam, plus I Mede and 4 Persians. From the far northwest in Anatolia, more sailors and carpenters were deployed to the boathouse or shipyard; from the far southwest, a large group of Egyptians included sailors, leaders, guards, and a keeper of monkeys! All on Nebuchadrezzar's payrol1.9 This is typical of the motley variety of people who were sucked into the central service and economy of the Assyrian and Neo- l3abylonian empires alike. l3eing exiled to Nineveh or l3abylon was not a purely Hebrew hazard!

Home alld Away -

Exile and RetufIl

On the greatness of Babylon as redeveloped by Nebuchadrezzar II (cf. Dan. 4:30) we can be brief. It had become a large city (by ancient standards), straddling the river Euphrates, its two parts linked by a bridge. The maximum width of both parts was about 3.5 kil ometers (just over 2 mi les) wide (west to east), and the north -south extent (omitting suburbs) about 2.5 kilometers (some llh miles), all surrounded by massive defense walls, pierced by named gates. The western part was the "new city." The heart of the city extended along the east bank of the Euphrates, from the "North Palace," museum, and royal gardens (origin of the "hanging gardens") to the main or "South Palace" adjoining the splendid Ishtar Gate, brilliant in deep blue tiles with alternating figures of dull yellow bulls and white and dull yellow lions and dragons. From there the long Processional Way ran straight as a die near to the south end of the city, separating off the palaces, the "tower of Babe!," and main temple of the god Marduk from the main bulk o f the old city, with its houses, bazaars, squares, many streets, a cana!, and various temples. Compa red with the towns of Palestine, it would have seemed a vast metropolis to anyone coming in from the Levant.!O Cf. fig. loA- B.


While the main groups of exiled /udeans were finding new employ in Babylon and still very sore about it (d. Ps. 137), the rural population in Neo- Babylonian Judea had to become productive taxpayers for the new administration . For this purpose Nebuchadrezzar had appointed as local governor Gedaliah son of Ahikam, son ofShaphan (Jer. 40 :5-6), with headquarters at Mizpah, now generally conceded to have been the modern Tell en -Nasbeh (in Benjamin) about eight miles north of /erllsalem. l1 Among the clutch of late /udean seals and bullae of owners attested under kings /ehoiakim to Zedekiah (d. p. 21 above), we have two men Gedaliah, either of whom may well have been our Gedaliah . One was "Servant of the King," the ot her was a high steward "who is over the house/estate." Most scholars prefer identification of the biblical Gedaliah with the high steward; this is not certain, but certainly possible.!2 As for Mizpah/Tell en -Nasbeh, restudy of the sitereports and records suggests that the Iron II town was internally redeveloped to become the Neo -Babylonian administrative center for Judea, as a NeoBabylonian and Persian level can now be distinguished. The old outer gate was kept, but a stretch of old wall and inner gate were done away with, and large new buildings constmcted.o This may well have been done by Gedaliah with Babylonian support duri ng his brief four-year regime. That ended in his mur-



der by jealous rivals (Jer. 407- 41:15), egged on by BaaJis, king of Ammon, for whom we also have a seal impression and the se:J1 of one of his subjects. 14 So this dossier gives us some b:Jckground for Judah becoming an economic unit early in the "exilic" period . 15


Finally, some of t he Judeans fled to Egypt, to escape Babylonian domination, and feared revenge in the wake of the murder of Gedaliah (Jer. 41:16- 43:7), taking an unwilling Jeremiah with them. Their stopping point at Tahpanhes (Jer. 43:7ff.) had brought them to a fort of Psammetichus I, established for a garrison of Greek mercenaries, known to Herodotus as Daphnai. This name appears in modern Arabic Tell Defenneh. Tahpanhes is Egyptian: Ta -ha(tJ-pa-lIchcsi, "The mansion of the Nubian/Panehsi," not yet known in Egyptian inscriptions, but it is attested in Phoenician (spelled as in Hebrew) from a sixth century B. C. papyrus found in Egypt . This document is a letter that invokes "Baal-Zephon and the gods of Tahp:Jnhes."16 Jeremiah's prophecy (44:30) of Pharaoh Hophra's coming untimely end was fulfilled when he was supplanted by Amasis II in 570, losing his life in consequenceY His further threat (Jer. 43:8ff.) that Nebuchadrewu would invade Egypt, even hold court at Tahpanhes, may possibly have been fu lfilled in 568, to judge from a fr:Jgmentary text that alludes to the thirty-seventh year of Nebuchadrezzar II, marching against Egypt for b:Jttle, seemingly against "I King Ama Isu," i.e., (Amas) is [[ . 18 The continuing presence of Jews in Egypt is attested under Persian rule, in the late sixth and the fifth! fourth centuries B.C ., as we shall see. Th us the people of Judah ended up in three different locations by about 580 - the elite :Jnd "useful" people in Babylon; the ordinary working people still in Judea; and sundry fugitives in Egypt .



A. BIBLICAL DATA (i) Sources. Bib lical

The biblical data that reflect the fall of Babylon to Cyrus of Persia in 539 and the Persian dominion down through the late sixth into the fifth/fourth centuries are (in explicit terms) basical ly the books of Ezra (from which 2 Chronicles

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took its dos ing colophon), Esther, and Nehemiah. The transfer of power from Babylon (in t he person of Belshazzar) to Cyrus is also mirrored in Daniel. (l3elshazzar: Dan . 5;]:1; followed by Darius the Mede [Year 1 only]: 5:}1; 6:lff.; 9:1, who is paralleled by Cyrus the Persian in 6:28j Cyrus: Year 3, in 10:1.) Some genealogies in 2 Chronicles come down into the Persian period . In the first part of Ezra (1-6) we have an outline of events from the accession to power of Cyrus of Persia (539) down to completion of rebuilding the temple at Jerusalem in the sixth year of Darius I (516)j within this section is an insert (4:6-23) on outside interference against the Jews' attempt to renew the walls of Jerusalem, not just work on the temple. This happened early in the reigns respectively of Xerxes and Artaxerxes (I). The second part of the book (7-10) records Ezra's mission (in the seventh year of Artaxerxes [I [) to regulate the life of the Judean community in accord with their traditional Law - of YHWH to them, and of "the God of Heaven" in "Persian-Kingspeak."The book includes summary registers of returnees both of Cyrus's time and of Ezra's visitation . The book of Nehemiah follows on from all this. In Year 20 of Arta xerxes (I), Nehemiah got word of Jerusalem's problems, with vandalized gates and walls, and sought his sovereign's permission to sort matters out. The king granted his cupbearer full facilities and the governorship of the district of Judah. Thus, on completion of the wal!, Nehemiah and the veteran Ezra held appropriate ceremonies, sought to build up the city's population by bringi ng in new residents from the other Judean settlements, and sought further to encourage the people to live by their traditional Law (on Sabbath observance, mixed marriages, etc.). During his building work, Nehemiah had three foes among his neighbors : Sanballat, governor of the Samaria district to his north; Tobiah, the Ammonite, from just east, across t he Jordanj and Geshem (or Gashmu), the Arabian, to his south . The latest date in his book is most likely the mention (Neh. 12:22) of the time of a king "Darius the Persian," in relation to records of priestly and Levitical families under the high priests from Eliashib to Jaddua (cf. for these, Neh . \2:1, !OJ Ezra 2:36; 3:2), running down to Darius 11 . In between the time of Darius I (with the temple's completion) and that of Artaxerxes I (restoring city walls and rule of ancient law) comes the reign of Xerxes, the setting of the book of Esther. This is set entirely within the Persian court in the palace of Susa, in what had been northernmost Elam, east from Babylonia . Going back in time, the transplanted people in Syria and others in Judea (Ezra 4:2, 10) harked back to Esarhaddon and Assurbanipal of Assyria.



(ii ) Pl aces
Quite a few have turned up, in outlining the biblical sources. The returning Jews had set forth from Babylon in the east but had lived in other districts ~ Tel Melah, etc., Ezra 2:59; the series of "Tel" names may reflect settlement of Jewish captives on abandoned terrain. Ezekiel long before mentioned the river Chebar (Ezek . 1:1 ; etc.), the Kabaru of the Murashu archives. Esther became a queen in Susa to the east; her sovereign's empire of 127 provinces extended from India in the east to (Egypt and) Kush in the west. Her mentor was a Jewish palace official, Mordecai; we read of banquets, daybooks of the realm. The temple decree by Cyrus had to be tracked down to Ecbatana in Persia (Ezra 6:1 - 2). Back in Palestine, besides Jerusalem and Samaria, we have listings of places in Judea when the returnees settled: Anathoth, Bethel, Gibeon, Netopha, Jericho, etc. (Ezra 2:21 -35 paralleled by Neh. 7:26-38; further listing, Neh. U:25-35).

(iii ) Usages
Cyrus is seen consciously reversing his Babylonian predecessors' policy, by restoring symbols of deity (:md adherents) to their home sanctuaries, as in Ezra J:l-4. Both he and Darius (latter, 6:2-12) are shown giving support to local temple and cult, as at Jerusalem . Vie are shown incessant communications via letters to and from the imperial court, and issue of appropriate royal decrees, in part cited in Aramaic (4:8--6:18; 7:12 -26).



So urces

For all its vastness, and its immense impact in ancient history, we possess only very uneven original and allied sources for the Persian Empire. '9 Most familiar to Western readers are the accounts given by Herodotus, in his famous Histories - of great value, but much of it necessarily at second hand. 20 We still have the Babylonian Chronicles, lacon ic but invaluable so far as they go. The Persian kings themselves left a series of official royal inscriptions (particularly at Persepolis) written in Old Persian, in its special cuneiform syllabary; best known is the Behistun inscription on a towering cliff face. In Babylonia, a series of business records, etc., from everyday life preserves regnal dates and contemporary customs. At Persepolis, from the treasury and the 7'

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northeast for tification wall have come large series of administrative tablets written in Elamite cunei form, being part of the accounts of the palace complex t here, during the reigns of Darius [ to Artaxerxes L And from t he west in Egypt we have a long series of Aramaic papyri and ostraca, the greater part hailing from archives of the Jewish commu nity based on Elephantine Island (close by Aswan) below the Fi rst Cataract of the Nil e. Other fi nds come from Hermopolis in Middle Egypt and from Saqqara (cemetery of Memphis) in the north, plus an unprovenanced post bag and its leather scrolls. From Palestine come the Wadi Daliyeh papyri of the fourth century and va rious ostraca. 21

(ii) The Historical Framework

The major rulers of the later Babylonian and Persian empires that touch on the biblical record can be tabulated simply, as follows . Table 6. Neo-Babylonian and Persian Rulers in OT and External Sources Late Neo-Babylonian, OT Belshazzar Late Neo- Babyloni an, oth er Nabonidus (plus son, Bel-shar-usur as deputy) Persian Empire, oth er Cyrus (II) Cambyses (I I) (and brief usurpers Da ri us I Xerxes Arta xerxes I Darius II (Arta xerxes [I - Darius II!

(556 -539)

Persian Empire (OT) Cyrus (+ Darius the Mede)


(539 -530) (530 -522)

[,,, I)
(5 22 -486) (486 -465) (465-424) (424-405) [40 5-33 1 ])

Darius [ Xerxes ("Ahasuerus") Artaxerxes I Darius (11) the Persian (No more rulers mentioned)

Most of this is self-explanatory, and shows overall correspondence. In the late Babylonian empire Nabonidus was largely an absentee ruler, spending ten of his seventeen years far, far southwest of Babylon (about 450 miles) in and around Teima in northwest Arabia, and return ing barely a year or so before Babylon's fall in 539 . Du ring that long span, circa 550 -540, the effective ru ler in Babylon was in fact his son Belshazza r, as local documents attest, wherein oaths are sworn in the names of both men . Without actually having the title of king in official usage, Belshazzar enjoyed t he powers, for (as one cuneiform chroni73


ele has it) his father had in practice "entrusted the kingship into his hand."'Thus it is (as often remarked) understandable that (in Dan . 5:7, 29) Daniel was reputedly offered the third- and not the second-highest place in the kingdom by Belshazzar ~ who was himself but second. [n that same passage Belshazzar is, with almost mock obsequiousness, called "son" of his "father" Nebuchadrezzar (if one translates literally) ~ but this is a left -handed compliment, contrasting the prince with his (and his own father's) far more illustrious predecessor. Usurpers or indirect successors (and Nabonidus was not a direct successor of Nebuchadrezzar) often liked to claim a greater predecessor as an ex officio "father." (In Egypt, Sethos II was flattered by a correspondent as having Ramesses II [his grandfather ] as his "father.") Darius the Mede (as such) is an ephemeral figure (on[y in Year 1), and bracketed directly with Cyrus the Persian (Dan. 6:28); here the simplest and best analysis is that the two are the same. 22 In the Persian series, the would -be usurpers (Gaumata and the like) do not appear in the biblical accounts, as they were only ephemeral figures, usually far from Palestine. Nor does Cambyses, whose short reign saw no particular in cident affecting the Jews in Judea. The main series of the Old Testament's Persian kings corresponds clearly and directly with the well-known emperors of the firsthand records and of Herodotus. Ezra's visitation in Year 7 of Artaxerxes I would fall in 458, the twelve-year governorship of Nehemiah of Years 20-}1 of the Same king in 445433, and his second visit in about 432 (no lower limit given). Alternative interpretations for these dates have often been suggested, but fail to account any better for the total evidence.23 Of the lesser rulers that opposed Nehemiah, some evidence is known, even well known . Sanballat the Horonite, governor of Samaria, is now known to have been Sanballat I (first of three governors of th is name, the second being named in the Wadi Daliyeh papyri, and a probable third by Josephus). He occurs as governor of Samaria and father of two sons, and is appealed to for help by the Jews in Elephantine in Year 17 of Darius II in 407. 24 Tobiah the Ammonite was an early member in a long line of Tobiads established in Transjordan, west from Rabbath-Am mOil . In the third century B.C ., burial caves were used at 'Iraq el-Amir, next to which the name Tobiah was engraved in large Aramaic lettering; the family had dealings with Zeno in Ptolemaic Egypt, and about 180 iI.C. Hyrcanus of this family built the magnificent structure (Qasr el- 'Abd; a palatial residence?) still to be seen at 'Iraq el -Amir. H Nehemiah's third foe, Geshem the Arabian, turns out to have been a king of Qedar in northwest Arabia. In a small pagan sanctuary in Wadi Tumilat, in Egypt's East Delta, were found some splendid silver bowls, one being inscribed in Aramaic: "What Qaynu son of Geshem, King of Qedar, brought in offering to (the goddess) Han-ilat." The script, along with the finding of Greek coins of 74

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the fifth to early fourth centuries B.C ., indicates a date of about 400 for this bowl, and the time of Qaynu; so his father Geshem may well have reigned in the 440S/430S as a foe of Nehemiah . A Geshem (as "Jasm") of some importance occurs in the date line with one 'Abd, governor of Dedan, in an inscription at Dedan (AI -Llla); this is perhaps also our man. 26 So each of Nehemiah's opponents is attested from documents dose to him in time, or by descendants in Tobiah's case. See, e.g., figs. llA, B, C.

(iii) Places
In the East, some places are well known while others are not . Susa, location of a Persian palace in Nehemiah (1:1) and Esther (1:2; etc.), has been the site of much excavation by French expeditions. There the once-splendid buildings include a palace built by Darius I and Xerxes, and another of Artaxerxes !. Brilliant glazed tiling showed warriors at the entrance and lions in the outer court. Three great courts lay between the pillared audience-hall to t heir north and the large suites of royal apartments to their south, including inner halls or courts. Surviving Persian metalwork in gold, silver, etc. hints at the sumptuous wealth once found thereY Ecbatana was originally the capital of Media, then of that land as a Persian province; it is hugely undug, but a variety of finds have come from its mound amidst modern Hamadan. 28 In the West, in Palestine, many places listed in Ezra and Nehemiah are either not securely identified with present-day sites or have not been dug (or cannot be) - through no fault of theirs! And conversely, we have numerous sites in Palestine that show attested Persian-period remains or occupation, many of which find no mention in our two authors or are unidentified either in the Bible or in other sources. However, quite a number in Ezra -Nehemiah are also at tested for this period archaeologicalIy.29

(iv) Usages
The books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther show the Persian Empire "at work," and its early rulers vigilant in securing their authority by (positively) supporting a "local" cult such as that ofYHWH in Jerusalem (Ezra 1:2-4; 6:1 -12; T12 26), or by (negatively) restraining the building of city defense walls, if it presaged even a hint of rebellion (cf. 4:8 -22). Letters of safe conduct, like passports, could be issued (Neh. 27). Communication was by letter through couriers (e.g., Esther PS; 8:1 0, 14), between all parts of the empire and the effective capitals at


Susa and Babylon, besides the great ritual center at Persepolis and the old Median capital at Ecbatana. The royal administration and all such letters were conducted in Aramaic, already the current language in Syria-Palestine and Mesopotamia; hence, its use in several citations from official correspondence in Ezra 4- 7. Versions were put into local languages as needed; cf. Esther 3:12; 8:9. All of this has long been attested from a variety of documents, both in the sixth to fourth centuries and even surviving long afterward . Religion was the background and "social cement" in all communities in the ancient Near East throughout its early history. Support for a community's cult(s) was a sure way to gain its loyalty, and the Persian emperors were quick off the mark to secure their rule over the vast domains they inherited from Babylon and Media by this means. Thus, as a matter of propaganda, Cyrus ostentatiously sent back the images of the gods that Nabonidus had gathered (for safety from Cyrus's attack!) into Babylon, to their home temples throughout Babylonia, and he and his son Cambyses took care to involve themselves in the cult of Marduk, god of Babylon, the very year they gained power there.~ Up in Asia Minor, we have two examples of imperial involvement in local religion and cults. First, down to Roman times, in Magnesia, the temple of Apollo preserved record of its rights confirmed by Darius I (522-486) to Gadata (probably the satrap there); the Greek text would be a translation from the Aramaic original.'l Second, we have an original document from Xanthus in Lycia, of the first year of Artaxerxes III (358), whereby Pixodarus, the satrap of Caria and Lycia, regulates the introduction of the cult of a Carian deity into the temple of Leta at Xanthus, with appropriate provision for sacrificial offerings. What is noteworthy is that this inscription is trilingual. The decree from the satrap's bureau is in Aramaic; next to it, on opposite sides of the stone to each other, are versions of the original request in Greek (main area language) and in Lycian (the local tongue). The three texts show significant differences in detail, reflecting their originators' interests. J2 The whole setup illustrates the rather compressed formula in Esther (p2; 8:9), that decrees and documents would be written in the script/language of each province, not only in Aramaic. In Babylon, Cyrus's administrative orders to the Babylonian officers to repatriate the other Babylonian images would have been issued in Aramaic; but his propaganda texts for the temples were in traditional Babylonian cuneiform. This can be seen in the "Cyrus Cylinder" for Babylon; and in his building texts for the Ur and Sippar temples." In Egypt, under Cambyses and especially Darius I, the Persian kings sought to patronize the local cults. For Cambyses the high dignitary Udja-Hor-resenet acted in the role of an Egyptian adviser, and enlisted his interest in the temple of the goddess Neith of Sa is. Darius I in turn was served by this same dignitary, sanc-


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tioned building work on Egyptilln temples, and caused to be built a whole new temple llt Hibis in the Grellt Oasis (Khllrgll).34 Thus it Cllnnot be so surprising to find (Ezra 1- 2) Cyrus authorizing a restoration of what was (for him !) the local cult of "the God of heaven" (YHWH to his worshipers) at Jerusalem in Yehud (Judea) subprovince in Palestine, and therefore granting that the deity's cult vessels (there being no image) and a goodly body of adherents should also go back there. Politically, we should remember, Palestine was the springboard for Egypt; a loyal populace there was a prerequisite for a successful Persian conquest there. And the same applies (both religiously and politically) in the case of Darius I, who confirmed the templebuilding project, with appropriate provision for the cult (Ezra 5; 6:1-12), precisely as we saw happen later at Xanthus and as is implied in what remains of the Magnesian rescript of Darius I. Likewise, in Egypt Cambyses had the temple of Neith restored and renewed its revenues and festival provision; the Hibis temple of Darius I would also have had to be granted endowments to maintain its cult. Direct roylll Persian interest in fe wish cultic affairs is not limited to Ezra's text. During Cambyses' invasion of Egypt (525), much violence and damage was done, includ ing to temples there, as Udja-hor-resenet (disc reetly) and one of the later Jewish Aramaic papyri (Cowley, no. 30 :13- 14) from Elephantine both agree. The latter also records that the Jewish temple at Elephantine was not attacked then but was respected by Cambyses. Much later on we find direct Persian interest in its cult. 35 One document from Elephantine (Cowley, no. 21) is a direct command from the Persian king, Darius II, that the Jews in Elephantine should celebrllte the Passover and feas t of unleavened bread . Typiclllly, the edict went from the king to the slltrllp of Egypt, Arsames, llnd by him vill a Jewish emissary Hanan iah (Cowley, no. 38:7) to the Elephantine Jewish comm unity itself. As one would not expect Darius I [ to know personally the details of t hese feasts, it appears that Hananiah was dispatched on a mission t here by Darius II, much as Ezra (chap. 7) was sent out to the Jews in Jerusalem by ArtaxeTxes I. There is no rational reason to doubt the authenticity of Ezra's commission any more than that of Hananiah under Darius 1].36 In turn, when the Jewish temple at Elephantine was destroyed in 410, the Jews there made appeal to both the governor of Judea, Bigvai, and Johanan high priest in Jerusalem, and likewise to the sons of Sanballat I, governor in neighboring Samaria down to the seventeenth year of the king in 407. But unlike Zerubbabel governor of Judea and the priest Jeshua in Jerusalem, who asked for help for their temple via Tartenai (governor of "Beyond the River")7 in 520 (Ezra 4:24; 5- 6), the appeal from Elephantine seemingly fel l on deaf ears; it may have been refused by the satrap Arsames.


And so one might continue. In terms of Persian imperial involvemen t with local peoples and communities, what we find in Ezra~Nehemiah (and Esther) is in harmony with what we see in the contemporary firsthand sources that we do have. The Persian kings supported local cu lts as a focus of localloy~ alties to the center; and that the local groups should invoke their deities' blessings on their rule. Various minor details in the biblical sources find echoes in our external data. Thus Nehemiah (27) asked for letters of safe conduct for his journey to Judea . Just such a "passport," with requests (by the satrap Arsames for his adjutant Nahti-hur) to a series of officials for safe conduct (and provision) all the way from Babylonia to Damascus (en route to Egypt), has survived from only a few years after Nehemiah, preserved with other letters in a leather postbag such as couriers might have used on such journeys?8 So we can see what Nehemiah might have expected from his king. The terminology in the biblical copies of letters to and from the Persian court is directly comparable with what we find in the external, firsthand docu ments. Inferiors call themselves the "'servant(s)" of superiors and kings; the idiom for issuing decrees (sam (e'ell/) is the same; the body of the typical Official Aramaic letter begins with the phrase "Peace (sIJ~I~m) and much well-being I send you," which is what is presupposed in Ezra 4:17 (lit. "Peace, etc."), where the formula is abbreviated for brevity's sake .39 And so on, we may also say, on this topic. The form or stage of language of Aramaic used in Ezra and Daniel is precisely that used in the Neo-Babylonian and Persian period (sixth to fourth centuries), and is currently termed Official Aramaic. In the Old Testament the sole difference is that the spelling has been consistently modernized, to bring it into line with the Aramaic otherwise in popular use among the Jews by the third century. This was because of sound~shifts in Aramaic from at least the fifth century. For example, the consonant dIJ had coalesced with plain d Before this it had been written as a 2 in Old and Official Aramaic, as there was no separate letter in the (originally Phoenician) script for the sound dh. But to con tinue writing a d (as dh had become) with a z, when all other ds were written as d, could only lead to confusion . Already in the fifth century some scribes began to write the occasional d instead of z in such cases. So the change had to come. Thus with the fall of the Persian Empire, Aramaic largely ceased to be used except by those who spoke it (not just wrote it), and the change took place. But the change only dates itself, not the documents to which it was applied, as elsewhere in the ancient Near East . There is no good reason to deny the authenticity of the biblical Aramaic correspondence and other usages that we find in the biblical books relating to this period. 40


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We may now cast a retrospective glance over this much briefer period, circa 600-400. For the period of the Babylonian conquest of Judah and the exiling of an important part of its population to Babylon(ia), the biblical and external sources match closely in terms of history and chronology. The numbers exiled to Babylonia are comparable with previous Assyrian usage. The elite and "use_ ful" people (military; skilled folk) were the ones taken away (as always in such circumstances), and other folk were left to raise revenues from working the land, in accord with ancient imperial usage. In Babylon lehoiachin's presence and life on allowance is clearly evidenced. Babylon as an early metropolis is very visible. Back in ludea we have background for Gedaliah's brief regime, Ammonite foe, and Mizpah as local administrative center. The flight ofJews to Egypt via Tahpanhes (a known location) had later consequences. With the triumph of Persia, Cy rus appears as liberator in both the Babylonian and biblical view. Up to Babylon's fall, Belshazzar had been prime mover in Babylon under a largely absentee father (so a Daniel could only play third fiddle) . The sequence and dates of sixth- and fifth-century imperial rulers are closely agreed in biblical and other sources . Among lesser lights, Nehemiah's three foes find good background (Sanballat and family in papyri; Tobiah through his descendants' works; Geshem in contemporary records) . As for places, Susa was indeed a major capital, and Palestine knew a period of developing resettlement. Persian interest in its subjects' cults is well attested. Biblical Aramaic usage and cultural traits (even "passports") correspond closely with external usage and data . We are in a clearly defined historical and cultural period with good mutual correlations.



The Empire Strikes Back Saul, David, and Solomon

After our voyage through the busy half-millennium from 930 down to almost we now return to 930 and begin our long ascent back through time into the years, centuries, and aeons before 930, the probable date by which the Israelite community in Canaan found itself divided into two often rival kingdoms, Israel in the north (with most of the tribal groups) and Judah (plus Benjamin) in the south. Out of what sort of community did the twin kingdoms of Jeroboam (north) and Rehoboam (south) emerge? In the existing Hebrew texts that profess to describe the pre-930S period (Samuel, Kings, Chronicles), we find narratives about Israel's tribes demanding from their informal leader Samuel that a king be appointed "like the surrounding kingdoms," resulting in the selection of SauL After his embattled reign, and his son lshbaal's rapid demise, the strong young chieftain David quickly took over. He is shown as reuniting Israel around a new central capital, the fortress of Jerusalem (which he captures), and extending his power over most neighbors (in Transjordan and central Syria) but making alliance with others (Phoenicia; Hamath, a subject ally). His son Solomon is shown inheriting this mini -empire and indulging in conspicuous state display (building projects), along with wider international links (Egypt, Sheba, etc.), before decline leads to revolt within and without, so that most non-Hebrew territory was losl before his death - oul of which crisis the twin kingdoms were born. [t will be helpful, first, to sketch the principal features of these reigns as given by the biblical accounts, before looking into what external data (if any) we may properly draw upon to compare with them.
400 B.C.,





Looking back through time, we find that Solomon is assigned forty years' reign
(I Kings 11:42), being succeeded by his forty -one-year-old son Rehoboam, his son by an Ammonite lady, Na'amah (14:21) . Thus Rehoboam was born a year or

so before his father's accession, under the aged David. Solomon himself was onlya relatively young man at his accession (poetically described in 3:7), being the son of David by a later wife, Bathsheba (2 Sam. 12:24), at the end of David's major wars, about the middle of his reign of 33 + 7 = 40 years (2 Sam. 5:4). Solomon may well have acceded at twenty-plus years old, dying at fifty-plus. Within his reign he spent three or four years consolidating his power, then seven years (Years 4-1l) building the temple at Jerusalem, plus a further thirteen years building his palace and government complex (I Kings 7:1), the temple-building and palace projects totaling twenty years (9:10) during Years 4 to 24 of Solomon. \'Vhich accounts for all but sixteen years of the reign. Solomon had other building projects (cf. 9:17-18), perhaps partly contemporary with the Jerusalem undertakings, but at least in part following after these, to utilize the workforces still in being then . One such was the "M ill o" (terracing?) at Jerusalem, built after Solomon moved his Egyptian princess into his new palace (9:24; 11:27). These other works would need some yea rs, thus guaranteeing all but a few of the remaining sixteen years of the reign. With Solomon being a young son/successor of his father, there is no problem in having two successive reigns of abou t forty years each. Threats to the succession in David's old age led to Solomon's public appointment to kingship while his father yet lived (cf. 1 : 1~2:1) . So there lTlay have been an overlap of several months' coregency to secure the succession. (A lesson well learned by later Hebrew kings, as is clear in chap. 2 above.) David had seven years, six months in Hebron as local Judean chief and king before the rest of Israel came under his jurisdiction (2 Sam. 2:ll; 5:4). In that time, following Saul's death, Israel to t he north had been scattered and disorganized, many fleeing to Gilead, etc., wit h Philistine occupation of their normal territory (I Sam. 31:7), at least for a time. Thus three or four years might have elapsed before the northern tribes could be rallied by their "strong man," Abner (Saul's former army commander), who installed Saul's younger son Ishbaal ("Ishbosheth") as puppet ruler in Gilead under his own tu telage (2 Sam. 2:8 -9). Ishbaallasted a miserable two years (2:10) before being murdered perhaps roughly equivalent to Years 5 and 6 of David in Hebron. Then, after deliberations of a year or so, the Israelites finally came over to David. Before David and Ishbaal we have Saul, for whose reign we have the man 8,

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ifestly incomplete figure of".. . and two" years in 1 Sam . Ip. As his younger son lshbaal was forty at accession (2 Sam . 2:10), at latest about four years after Saul's death, he would have been not less than thirty-five by that event. Thus Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malki -shua (who died with Saul - 1 Sam. 31:2) migh t have been born in the four or five years before Ishbaal. If Saul married between fifteen and twenty years old and was still a personable young man when ap pointed king (d. 1 Sam. 9- 10), able to lead troops (2 Sam . ll:ll), he would most likely have been twenty to thirty years old at accession, and likelier nearer the latter age. Thus, an Ishbaal born to Saul aged (say) twenty-five to twenty-seven would have been thirty-five to thirty-seven years old by Saul's death after a thirtytwo-year reign, and himself king at forty-one soon after. We may summarize our results, thus, as an approximate framework: Table 7. Kings and Suggested Dates, Israelite United Monarchy Dales

1042-1010 (1006-1004 1010 -970 97 1/970- 93 1/930

King Saul Ishbaa! David (UM from 1003) Solomon

Years [3['

40 40

!n the middle of the eleventh century Israel was still a fragmen ted tribal confederation without any fonna!, centralized authority, civil or military. Between the settlements in Ephraim in the northern hill count ry and their Judean brothers lay alien Jerusalem and other such places all the way down to Gezer, Aijalon, and Timnah. Northward, Ephraim was likewise largely cut off from Galilean brethren by alien settlements in the vale of Jezreel, such as Megiddo and l3ethShan, while the Jordan River divided them all ( if modestly) from other Hebrews in Gilead and environs. Cf. map, fig . 12. At their heart had been the old wilderness tabernacle, sheltering the ark of the covenant at Shiloh down to Samuel's time (cf. 1 Sam. 1- 4). But after the fatall3attle of Aphek, the Philistines had not only captured the ark in the battle but had pressed home their attack ruthlessly eastward to destroy the old tabernacle's successor shrine at Shiloh itself - an event so painful in Hebrew memory that nobody cared to allude to it for centuries thereafter, until Jeremiah did (Jer. 7:12-15) in his equally stark message against Jerusalem's temple. (Oh, and one psalmist, Ps. 78 :60.) It is significant that when the Philistines sent back the ark after a few months, it did l10t go 83


back to Shiloh, but to other location(s) - e.g., Kiriath-jearim for a long time (I Sam. 7:2, one spell of twenty years), if not Nob, which was a priestly shrine with the ephod (21 :9). After all this, the people (we aretold) demanded of Sam uel that a central, effective ruler be appointed, like other people had. He bluntly told them of the practical cost to their way of life that this would entail (I Sam. 8:10 -18). But Saul was appointed, and had to repel Ammonite hostility immediately, as his first test ( I Sam. 9- 12). For the rest of his reign Saul had to battle all too often with the Philistines as a constant threat (I Sam. 13- 14; 17; 19; 23-24; 28- 29; 31), but not exclusively. To the south he worsted the Amalekites (14:48; 15); to the east, not only Ammon but also Moab and tented Edom had to be repulsed (14:47). And in the north, sign ificantly, the kings of Zobah were repulsed - the first -attested Aramean attack on Hebrew terrain, virtually certainly against either Gilead or Galilee. But not the last, as David found out. Saul's end came with his body pinned to the walls of Beth-Shan (I Sam. 31). Saul had held court generally from Gibeah/Geba in Benjamin, it becom ing known as "Gibeah of Saul" (I Sam. 11:4; 15:34; and much later, Isa . 10:29), prim itive precursor to a "city of David ."There he had his residence and his bevy of young aides; David began as one, noted for musical skill (I Sam. 16:18, 21 -23; Psalms, passim), before later becoming a fugitive in southern Judah and the Negev (d. 1 Sam . 24:1; 27:8-12; 30:9-27) . As king, Sau l held assembly close by, with lip to six hundred people in attendance (14 :2). He developed some kind of army, with a chief commander (eventually, Abner son of Ner, 26:5) over other commanders (14:38). Some kind of taxation was now levied from the citizenry (cf.I7:25). So a rudimentary state was already taking shape, under adverse con ditions; and the Philistines at least could see its potential danger to their own hegemony in much of Canaan .

C. DAVID IN SUMMARY After seven years as local ruler in Hebron, David was accepted as king by all [srael (2 Sam. ):1 -4). His first move was to unify his realm by conquering Jerusalem, seemingly by artifice (5:6-8). Once installed, he eventually built himself a palace with the technical help of Hiram of Tyre, and built inward from the "Mil!o" structure, which was probably terracing (5:9-11) . However, wars, not buildings, had to be David's major concern.lmmediately the Philistines smelled trouble and had to be repulsed decisively (7:17-25; 8:1), or at least for a considerable period, with one last vain attem pt by them to crush David in four battles (21:15-22). Down south Amalek had been sorted ou t

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in Saul's time, so peace reigned there. But on the east, across Jordan, David defeated and effectively cowed both Moab (8:2, 12) and Edom (8:12, 13-14; cf. 1 Kings JJ:14 -22). With Ammon there had been friendly relations, until a new ki ng (Hanlin) insulted David's envoys. This led to war with the Ammonites, who involved Hadadezer king of Aram -Zobah on their side, besides the lesser polities of Maacah and Tob close by Gilead; Joab defeated the joint force (2 Sam . 10). But the magnitude ofthe Aramean threat needed David's personal intervention. Based in the Lebanon/Anti - Lebanon 13iqa Valley, the king of Zobah ruled both south over Damascus as a vassal (d. 8:5) and north to the great west bend of the Euphrates, from beyond whence he had power to call upon further armed forces (10:16). After the defeat near Rabbath-Ammon, the southern Aramean vassals made a gesture of submission to David (10:19). But Hadadezer faced, it seems, still greater problems north to the Euphrates, which gave David his chance to vanquish him from behind (d. 8:3-4), and then to impose his overlordship upon the Arameans of Damascus by garrisons and tribute (8 :5-6). Freed from the yoke of Zobah, Toi, king of Hamath, then became David's subject ally (cf. 8:9-10, J\), thus admitting Hebrew indirect rule to the ban ks of the Euphrates. Meantime the conflict wit h Ammon could be consummated (11:1; 12:26 -31), and Hanun so n of Nahash could be replaced by his brother Shobi, as vassal-ruler of Ammon under David under friendlier auspices (cf. IT27). The rest of David's reign was marked by public power and the alliance with Tyre abroad, but at home by domestic strife and attempted coups d'etat into old age, until Solomon's appoint ment.

The biblical accounts of Solomon's reign occupy all of 1 Kings I- II and 2 ehron. 1-9. it will be simplest here to summarize by theme, not sequence; for chronology, see I.A above.

(i) Foreign Relations

Early in his reign (Years 1-3) Solomon made a marriage alliance with a pharaoh of Egypt, who gave him Gezer as his daughter's dowry, after conquering it (I Kings p; 9:16, 24; cf. 7:8; 11:1). As no pharaoh would go to the expense of a military campaign merely to reduce one town and then give it and its terrain to a neighbo r, a much la rger action was clearly involved; between Gezer and Egypt


lay Philistia, rival to Israel, and perhaps no ally of Egypt either at this time. And a marriage alliance was not entered into lightly in antiquity. Trade in horses occurred, we are told (see just below). In Phoenicia Solomon inherited David's alliance with Hiram of Tyre, who sent due greetings on Solomon's accession; this led to Solomon ordering Lebanese timber through Hiram and Byblos ("Gebal"), 1 Kings 5. Hiram also sent a metalwork ing specialist for the bronze furnishings of the temple at jenlsalem (1 Kings 7). This led to financial arrangements (involving land exchange) between the two (1 Kings 9:10-14; 2 Chron . 8:1 -2), and to joint expeditions down the Red Sea to Ophir and beyond to obt ain further wealth (1 Kings 9:26 -28; 10:11 -12,22). Solomon's most exotic link was with the distant land of Sheba, the Saba of southwest Arabia; thence came its queen, ostensibly to compliment him, and with gifts (1 Kings 10), but more likely also for talks on trade, as Ophir was almost certainly within her land's sphere of interests. Next are Que and Musri . Musri is simply Egypt; Que is known to be Cilicia in southeast Asia Minor. Here Solomon acted as a middleman trader in horses and chariots for his royal neighbors (I Kings 10:28-29), as he controlled most of the land route between these north and south extremes. "Tadmor in the desert" (2 Chron. 8:4) may represent Solomon securing what was later the desert route via Palm yra, given the context of activity in Hamath-Zobah (8 :3) . SotTle read it as Tamar, south of the Dead Sea (because nearer to judah), on the west side of the Arabah .

(ii ) Buildings
The temple and its furnishings, in jerusalem, take pride of place in the narratives (I Kings 5- 6; 7:1) -51; 8). The temple had a two-columned porch, vestibule! hall, and sanctuary or "holy of holies"; around the exterior were storerooms on three levels, linked by stairs. At 60 cubits long x 20 cubits wide (i.e ., about 90 feet x 30 feet ) it was of modest size; but the carved cedar paneling of walls and floor and the gold overlay of the interior made it opulent. The palace complex in jerusalem included a great columned hall, a judgment hall, a royal residence, and an abode for his Egyptian princess, all walled round, as was the temple ( 7:1 -12) . This complex, too, had appropriately rich fur nishings: a throne of gilded ivory upon steps; gold and silver vessels; gold shields in the great columned hall (10:16 -21), to which should be added similar shields taken by David from Hadadezer of Aram -Zobah (2 Sam. 87). Other works at jerusalem include closing a modest gap in the walls; and


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work on the Millo (I Kings 11:1.7); building foreign cult shri nes east of the city (117-8); building work (unspecified!) at Gezer, Hazor, and Megiddo (9: 1 5, 17a), as well as at Upper and Lower l3eth Horon, l3aalath, :lnd elsewhere (9 :17-19; 2 Citron . 8:5-6) .

(iii ) Royal Administration

Here (I Kings 4:1 -19) we have first almost a dozen top people: an army commander; a chief over the twelve distr ict governors (listed separately, wit h their regions, which exclude Judah); a superintendent over the palace; a director of the corvee; a "recorder" and two secretaries; three priests plus one also as king's confidant ("friend"). Next to this we have a note of the scale of daily palace provisions, based on the monthly quotas of the twelve district governors (4:22-23). To which are added chariots and horses (4:26; 10:26; cf. 2 Chron. 9:25). Some details of cOTvees levied are given, plus payments to Hiram of Tyre (I Kings 5:10-16) . Some revenues are stated, regular and a one-off from Sheba (10:10, 14).

(iv) Culture
The king coveted wisdom, and had fame in it; had an interest in flora and faun:l; composed both "wisdom" (proverbs) and "songs" (I Kings 4:29-34) . He spoke a long prayer at the dedication of the temple; two psalms ( Pss. 72; 127) are assigned him by superscr iption; and two "books" of instructional wisdom bear his name, as compiler, Provo1~24 (including two sets of "Sayings of the Wise") and a posthumous collection (Prov. 25- 29).

(v) Sunset
All earthly empires eventually break up; Solomon's was no exception. From Egypt after David's death there came young Prince Hadad to reclaim Edom from Israelite rule (I Kings 11 :14-22); his impact initially was probably modest. Much farther north a young brave, Rezon, survived the wreck of Hadadezer's brief empire of Zobah, eventually to take control in Damascus (11:23-25) . This was more serio liS, because an independent regime in Aram -Damascus (if it also recovered rule over Zobah in the Biq a) would break off all direct contact between Israel and Hamath, thus ending all Israelite control north of Dan. Thus, before his death, Solomon had most likely lost control over Aram completely



(and Hamath with it), and probably of ou tlying Edam, threatening the Red Sea trade via the Gulf of Aqaba. He would be left with Judahllsrael (with Gilead) and probably Ammon and Moab as vassals - a much reduced realm . Finally, the works overseer Jeroboam fled to Egypt, to be welcomed by Shishak (Shoshenq I, ca . 945-924), and later used by him to shatter even the unity of the Hebrew monarchy itself, with the aim of imposing vassal status (cf. chap. 2 above) . To be welcomed by Shoshenq I, Jeroboam's arrival in Egypt would not predate 945 on the optimum dating for that king; hence, not before Year 24 or 25 of Solomon (and entirely possibly later, of course) .



Dur ing the two succeeding periods, the twin monarchies and the exile and return, we have benefited from a variety of external sources embodying direct mention of biblical people and events, showing full agreement in sequences of rulers and in their general dating, and some clear archaeological background. But before 853 th ings are different. People complain loudly, "Why no mentions of David or Solomon? Where is their power and splendor?" - but without having the gumption to inquire into the circumstances of the period or into the total evidence for before 853/930 that we do actually have. Let us therefore filJ this serious gap in method and understanding by looking at t he facts of the case.

0) Mesopotamia
The main reason things are so "bright" from 853 onward is that the kings of Assyria commonly named their adversaries in their reports, and from 853 they came into contact with Israel. This was 1I0t the case earlier. The first fOllr cam paigns of Shalmaneser III did not reach beyond north Syria, only to Patinu (formerly read Haltina) and the Orontes River. Before him his father, Assurnasirpalll (884-859), had also reached Patinu, t hen over the Orontes and Lebanon Mountains to the Mediterranean Sea (within 877 -867). There the Phoenician centers from Arvad to Tyre sent him tribute (a "one -off"!), but no rulers of theirs are named. I Before that none of his three predecessors, Assurdan II , Adad -nirari II, and Tukulti -Ninurta II (935-884), got anywhere west of

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the Balikh River and the Middle Euphrates; Syria and Canaan were beyond t heir reach. And therefore, they make no mention of kings or states there.2 Before 935, back to the death ofTukult i-Ninurta I (1245- 1208), whose power had reached the Euphrates just across from Carchemish, hardly any Assyrian king had reached Syria (let alone name any kings and lands there) for almost two hundred years. The main exception was Tiglath-pileser [ (1l 15-1076), who just once reached Arvad and Simyra in Phoenicia, receiving t ribute also from l3yblos and Sidon (another "one-off") . Assur-bel-kala (1074-1056) may have fleetingly done the same. Neither king named any western rulers except for IniTesub (II) of Carchemish and Allumari of Malatya, both in the far north, and a couple of kings of Patinu in north Syria.3 So, from 1200 to 1050 no Assyrian source named anyone in Philistia, Tra nsjordan, Judahllsrael, or even Phoenicia, as there was no contact with any of these except minimally wit h Phoenicia. Not even the Egyptian king who sent a crocodile is named. After Assur-bel-kala, it all went downhill for Assyria for well over a century under obscure kings from Eriba-Adad II to Tiglath -pileser II (1056-935)precisely the period of Saul, David, and Solomon in Israel. Aramean expansion in Upper Mesopotamia cut them off from Syria and the Levant beyond it. Their contemporary texts are ra re. Thus any mention by them of a far-distant David or a Solomon (up to 700 marching miles away) would be inconceivable without some very special reason. (None is knowll .)4 As for Babylon, her rulers (even t he energetic Nebuchadrezzar I) were limited in wars, etc., to relations with nearby Assyria and Elam , never with the far-distant Levant. They would know nothing whatever of a David or a Solomon, unless some di rect trade link occurred - for which development we lack all evidence currently.

(ii) Egypt
In Egypt, imperial campaigns in the Levant ceased with Ramesses II [ by circa
1175. There is currently no reason whatever to postulate any further Egyptian

warlike activity there until the reign of Siamun, in the late Twenty-First Dynasty, within circa 970 -960, on the basis of his unusual triumph scene, and thereafter only Shoshenq I, who left indubitable record of his expedition in Palestine. 5 But exactly like all his New Kingdom predecessors, Shoshenq [did not deign to name his adversaries, and long, detailed topographical lists like his and theirs almost never name states, just series of settlements. So no mention of the names Judah, Israel, Rehoboam, Jeroboam was ever to be expected in his normal -type list that we do possess in this instance. Most Delta remains are destroyed,6 and Upper Egyptian coffins bear magic spells, not war repo rts!



(iii ) The Levant

If the erstwhile "great powers" had no role in the south Levant, and thus offer no mention of its kings in the tenth century, there is even less prima facie hope that lesser kingdoms might do so. And we find this is precisely so. The series of Luvian hieroglyphic texts from Neo- Hittite kingdoms such as Carchemish, Malatya, Gurgum, Patinu, and even Hamath are almost entirely concerned with their own affairs and their own area (northernmost Syria/southeast Anatolia) - not with (e.g.) Phoenicia, still less with Canaan.7 No monumental Aramean inscriptions that predate the ninth century have yet been found (only the Melqart and Tell Dan stelae from the ninth in the Levant, so far), and no Aramean administrative texts whatever. In Phoenicia almost nothing precedes the local royal epigraphs of kings of 13yblos, which run (at present) from circa 1000 onward, mentioning only themselves. 8 Nothing survives (so far) from Tyre and Sidon unt il centuries later. In principle, future discoveries could change the picture radically at any time - like the Ekron inscription that has given us a five generation line of the Ekron ite royal house down to circa 690 .9 Naturally we cannot cite what is not yet found, but future possibilities must be allowed for. The Tel Dan stela suddenly produced what has to be conceded as the firs! non biblical mention of David as a dynastic founder in Judah (cf. [vI below); other such finds may still await the fortunate researcher.

(iv) Is raellJ ud ah Itself

But it has been asked, "Why no inscriptions of David's and Solomon's time?" Here the answer is probably twofold, and entails certainly the question of survival of artifacts and possibly t he policy of the state. The question of survival is much more serious than people realize, especially as "official" inscriptions by kings lend to be found on, in, or at temples, palaces, and other official edifices - not just everywhere. In lsraellludah such texts may mainly have been expected in the capitals: jerusalem (and later, Samaria). But since the tenth century Jerusalem has suffered repeated changes, destructions and rebuildings, often on the grand scale; and (even after 1)0 years) only a very small percentage of it has been (or can be) excavated. Outdated Solo monic stelae, for example, might have been reused in fresh masonry by later kings; the Babylonians thoroughly destroyed the temple and palace of the "City of David" area in 586; Zerubbabel's "second temple" rebuilding, and even more, the massive rebuild ing under Herod would have removed the last traces of prior Iron Age structures. Then, in turn, the Romans thoroughly destroyed jerusalem; and the tem -


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pie of Jupiter in Aelia Capitolina wou ld not help survival of older work on the Temple Mount. Byzantine rebuildings, a dllmllging Persilln incursion, lind Muslim , Crusllder, and lllter destruct ions and rebuilds all have taken t heir toll of earlier remllins. It would be II mimcl e if anything like individulll Slllbs such as inscribed stelae were to survive such a history of devastation and reuse. tO Further, on policy, we do not know whether Jerusalem's early Hebrew kings actullily did lellve formll l inscriptions on stone, evellllS servants ofYHWH . Inscriptions liS such were not forbidden; compare the unofficial Siloam tunnel inscription, the tomb inscription of [Shebna? liah, and two other scraps at Jerusalem.l1 Long after David and Solomon, in a probably less strict rel igious environment, the excavations at Samaria produced no series of official stone inscriptions either. Only one small possible fragmen t has ever been found, bearing the single anodyne word 'asher, "who/which"! So this may indicate that later Israelite kings did have such texts. But again, Samaria suffered hostile damage in 722/720; in Herodian and Roman times, it was much redeveloped. No other towns probably merited major insc riptions; such would have been recycled in later buildings in any case. The "lllien" inscriptions at Dlln (Aramelln; discovered by chllnce!) and Ashdod lind Sllmarill (Assyrian) have survived only as smlll[ fragments of texts mainly lost because they were smashed and reused as bu ilding rubble. So we could ha rdly expect to find a serious surviving corpus of Davidic/ Solomonic official texts, had they once existed . This Clln be seen from the state of minimal survival in ot her, comparllble Levantine kingdoms. Aram- Damascus hlls left us lllmost nothing from over two hundred yellrs of its kingdom . DlltnllSCUS has been repeatedly rebuilt during millennia, yielding (so far) no Iron Age inscriptions what soever. For all his power, Hazael of Arllm -Damascus has left us only bits from elsewhere: the shllttered Tel Dlln stela, his name on ivories cllrried off to Assyria, lind II couple of strllY horse-bli nker pieces. Just one stela of a Benhlldad survives that may represent Aleppo. From all Moab's kings, only Mesha's stela and one other fragment have so far turned up.12 Sealings apart, only abou t three small pieces commemorate kings of Ammon, and none commemorate the kings of Edom . We have short epigraphs of about four of the earlier kings of Byblos, but none pre-sixth century from Tyre and Sidon. And so on. Thus, in such a context we can hardly grumble at the near-total failure so far of texts to surface mentioning or belonging to David and Solomon.



(v) But Not Quite Total!

However, there are probably as many as three traces for David, and an indirect one for his major foe Hadadezer of Aram -Zobah.

(a) Fi rst for David

The publication of fragments of an Old Aramaic stela from Tell Dan in 199311995 brought to light the first recognized nonbiblical mention of the tenth-century king David, in a text that reflected events of the year 841and would have been set up at no great interval after that dateY On the simplest interpretation (cf. pp. }6-37 above, with the footnotes) of the surviving middle lines (3-9) of this text, we have here the killing or defeating of" [ .. . [nun, so n of [... J, king of Israel," and in pandlel, the killing of "[ . .. [iah son of [... J," relating to Byt-Dwd, "the House of David" - a phrase which cannot seriously be interpreted in any other way, it being of a very well known type. It corresponds exactly to the Assyrian l3it- Khumri = Byt-'mry, "the House of Omri" (= Israel). In this way a kingdom could be named after a prominent founder of a dynasty. Directly contrary to what some OT scholars claim, such mentions are strictly personal in almost all cases: they imply that a real man David and a real man Omri founded dynasties in the kingdoms concerned (Judah, Israel). Just asa real man (A)gusi founded a dynasty, l3it-( A)gusi, in the kingdom of Arpad, and another individual, Adini, founded his line and kingdom, Bit Adini, at Til-l3arsip, and so on; a dozen or more examples are known. So "House of (= dynasty founded by the man) David" (fig. 13A) is the only acceptable translation and understanding of the phrase Byt-Dwd. The date of this monument stems from the identity of the people mentioned, as already pointed out. The only known king of Israel whose name ends in -ram, and whose father had a four-letter name, was J(eh)oram, son of Ahab, slain in 841. The other matching person, "[ ... )iah son of [... 1 ," relating to the House of David slain at that time, could hardly be other than Ahaziah the contemporary Judean king, both slain by Jehu's action, for which the Aramean ruler here takes credit. In such a context, the latter would have been Hazael, with near total certainty. So we t hus gain a clear mention of David as dynastic founder of the kingdom of Judah about 1 50 years after his death .

(b) Second for David

As often happens, one discovery can lead to others. Equally convincingly, Lemaire was subsequently able to show that bt-[dJwd is to be read in line}1 of


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the famous stela of Mesha king of Moab, dating to about the same period . Cf. fig. 13B. Th is links the "House of David" (== Judah) with an occupation of part of southern Moab (around Horonen), corresponding to Israel's penetration in t he north under Omri and his dynast y. So we have David mentioned twice in retrospect, some six generations after his death. 14

(c) And a Third for David?

Nor is this all, it seems. After his victory over Rehoboam and Jeroboam in 926/ 925, Shoshenq I of Egypt had engraved at Karnak a long list of Palesti nian place- names. Some of these are now d estroyed, and thus lost to us; many can be readily ident ified with known places in Israel, Judah, the Negev, and a few in western Transjordan. But quite a few have remained obscure. Among these, in a group of names clearly located by association in the Negev/south Judah area, is "the heights of Dwt."1 5 It could not really be Dothan - no final If, and in ent irely the wrong context for a north Palestinian settlement. However, in an Ethiopic victory inscription of the early sixth century ... .D. in southwest AT abia, the emperor ofAxum cited explicitly passages (Pss. 65; 19) from the "Psalms of Dawit," exactly the consonants Dwt as found with Shoshenq. In Egyptian transcriptions of foreign names (both places and personal), a t could and somet imes did transcribe a Semitic d. This happens in the New Kingdom in such fa miliar place-names as Megiddo (Egyp. Mkr), Edre'i (Egyp. 'itr), Adlllmllilll (gyp. itmll1), Damasclls ( Egyp. Tmsq) , Dothaim/n (Egyp. TtYlf) . Back in the Middle Kingdom the Execration Texts have a prince of Magdali (Egyp. Mktry). And just then, we have this use in personal names also, including a "David""the Asiatic, chief carpenter, Twtt' is for a Dawid or Dodi on a stela; another is a probable Dodi-( H) uatu, Egyptian Tt - w't, in a papyrus. Thus there is no reason to doubt a final -d becoming a voiceless t in both Egyptian and Ethiopic (both, Afro-Asiatic languages).16 And no better alternative seems forthcoming. This would give liS a place-name that commemorated David in the Negev barely fifty years after his death, within living memory of the man . The Negev was an area where David had been prominent in Saul's ti me (I Sam. 24:1; 27; 30; p. 84 above). His name being in such a place-name is analogous with the "field of Abram ," also in Shoshenq's list. So, historically, we would be within fifty years of David 's own lifetime. Cf. fig. I}C.



(d) Hope fo r Hadadezer of Z obah?

As we have seen, the biblical record wou ld indicate that Hadadezer of Aram Zobah had enough authority and power - clout - to commandeer troops from across the Euphrates (2 Sam. 10:15 -16). He thus had sufficient control of the crossings of that river, in the south part of its westernmost bend, for this to be possible. These wars of David in Ammon and with Aram -Zobah can be set at about the 990s, say, about Years 15 -20-plus in his reign (cf. p. 85, above). In Assyria this period corresponds to the long but feeble reign of Assur-rabi 11 (1013 -972), under whom later Assyrian documents record : "at the time of Assur-rabi (11), King of Assyria, the king of the land of Arumu took (two cities) by force (sci!., Pitm = PethoT, and Mutk inu) . ."17 Pitm is long known to be biblical Pethor (Num. 22:5; Deut. 23: 4), near the Euphrates, south of Carchemish. Shalmaneser 111 places it on the river Sajur that runs into the Eu phrates; Mutkinu was opposite, on the east bank of the Euphrates. Aru mu in its context is hardly other than a variant of Aramu, "Aram." the two last vowels being harmonized. It would be entirely appropriate to identify this "king of Aram" within 101)-972 as our Hadadezer of Aram -Zobah, who d rew upon this region (later Bit -Adini) for troops. Politically there are no known "rivals" for him then, in th is capacity of controller of Pitru and Mutkinu. So we have a highly likely reference for David's most powerful foe, as well as one possible and two solid references for David himself.


So we can now see clearly why it is not pe rmissible just to sit back and moan, "We have no literal mentions of Saul/David/Solomon - so, they never were." The question why has to be asked, and it has now been answered; and the traces even of such explicit mentions have just begun to emerge. But we have not exhausted the available evidence; direct, explicit mentions of people and events are not the only kind available. We have yet to exam ine the matter of implicit evidence. The content of the basic biblical data on Saul, David, and Solomon was set out above (sec. I, pp. 82 -88). These data might in principle be wholly factual, or wholly fictional, or something in between . Adduction of appropriate, external background data will not prove the ultimate historical truthfu lness of these reports. But it will enable us to affirm or eliminate fantasy, and to affirm or elim inate correspondence with known realities in the world of the tenth or other centuries B.C. in these narratives. Enough data exist and aT e known to

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make some tests practical, which we must now proceed to apply. Given the almost rustic and very limited regime of SllUl, we cannot expect too much for his reign . For David more should be possible; and for Soiomon much more is given t hat is open to external comparison.

(H) Saul

(aJ Nature of Levantine Kingsllip

The changeover from the rule of largely local chiefs to a centralized authority having power over them was a momentous one. In 1 Sam. 8 the prophet Samuel outlined what the practical cost of the rule by monarchy would be. His somber picture has often been treated by Old Testament scholars as an art ificial retrojection from the bad days of the subsequent mona rchy, put into the prophet's mouth by a late antimona rchical propagandist. Fo r this purely theoretical view there exists no external supporting evidence . Rather, the evidence we do have points in diametrically the opposite d irection - t hat Samuel's sentiments were a realistic assessment of what traditional Levantine kingship meant in practice. 18 Comparison with the data fro m the courts of Stich kingdoms shows clear similarities with Samuel's warnings. (I) The Heb rews would see their sons impressed into a standing army, serving in the chariotry and as commanders (by fifties and thousands) of companies and divisions of soldiers. With th is has been compa red the service of lIIaryanllu, chariot warriors at Alalakh and later in Ugarit . At Ugarit conscription of the male inhabitants of local villages for military service, particularly as archers, is well attested (as well as for marine service).19 (2) With 1 Sam . 8:12b, royal conscription for work on the land, one may compare the situation in Ugarit, where citizens in their villages were conscripted for this and other work, including on the royal estate (dillltulgtJ. 20 (3) With 8:12C, on people having to make (or produce) weapons (including for chariots) and equipment, we again may compare usage at Ugarit. There t he required delivery of bronze vessels and of lances is mentioned. 21 (4) 8:13 continues with such a king taking on people's daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers - probably to be understood as for royal service in the palace. This compares with bakers, launderers, oil workers, and perfumers in the palace records at Ugarit, and (several centuries before) with women bakers and confectioners, etc., among 400 women in the palace at Mari. 22 (5) In 8:14 Samuel warns of royal confiscat ion of choice land, vineyards and ol ive groves, to dist ribute to the king's officers. In the Canaanite and Levantine world the king of95


ten had considerable rights of disposal over the terrain in his rea lm, and could freely transfer land and title to it, as t he Ugarit archives dearly iliustrate.H (6) Further, 8:15, 17a attributes to the king the levying of a tithe of crops (gra in, vintage) to supply his officers, and of livestock. The exercise of the royal tithe (crops, vintage, cattle) is again well attested at Ugarit, both in practice and by mention of special exem ptions. 24 (7) And (8:16) the king can take over servants and livestock, or (8:17b) impress citizens into service.2 ~ In the light of these extensive and well-attested usages, at Mari, Alalakh, and especially Ugarit (which fell in approximately 1175, barely 1)0 years before Saul's time), there is no need whatever to defer these usages as attested in I Sam. 8 to any period after the eleventh century - they have ancient and enduring roots . During the twelfth and into the eleventh century various former "Canaanite" polit ical entities survived the passing impact of the Sea Peoples down the Mediterranean coast into eventual Philistia, and of a growing Aramean presence within Syria, from a mere enclave in the fourteenth and thirteenth centuries into nascent kingdoms of Zobah and then Damascus in the eleventh and tenth centu ries. 26 On the one hand, seaport kingdoms such as Byblos and Tyre with Sidon and Arvad came through the changes, while inland around Mount Lebanon a rump kingdom of AmuTTu remained into the twelfth and possibly the eleventh centuryY These, and surviving Canaanite cities such as Gezer and Megiddo, would amply have sufficed to pass on inherited Late Bro nze ideas, ideals, and usages of the Late Bronze Age kingship of the thirteenth century and before. Military ranks such as "commander of a thousand" (cf. I Sam. 8:12) are attested not only at Ugarit; among the people who owned inscribed bronze arrowheads in the late twelfth to eleventh centuries, we have such an "arrow of Banaya, commander of a thousand," for example.28

(b) Glimpses o/Topography and History

(I ) Shiloh

Shiloh is locatable at the rocky mound of Khirbet Seilun; two excavation projects have worked here - Danish and [sraeli. 29 [t is a frust rating site to work at, as much is (or was) denuded to bare rock. Only the northern segment is dear enough to dig for pre-Roman remains; the high center has been successively cleared/denuded for successive buildings down to medieval times; and the southern half of the site was extensively redeveloped and built over during Roman and Byzantine times, to the detriment of whatever preceded them. Thus the result of lim ited digging in the northern segment is valuable so far as it


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goes, but cannot guanmtee a full picture when so much is hidden or already lost and destroyed. However, it is clear that Shiloh flourished during much of Iron Age I, in t he twelfth and eleventh centuries, ending in a violent destruction. For at least a century (ca. lISO-JOSO, on Finkelstein's dates; but lISO may be slightly too low), storehouses occupied at least some part of the northwest area of the site. No t race was found of the tabernacle precinct by him or the Danes, as the possibly preferred high central area is too denuded to yield any really ancient traces of anything. It should be said that a site for the tabernacle/temple has been suggested on the flat area adjacent to the north side of the settiement. 30 Despite summary rejection of the idea by Yeivin and Finkelstein, this remains a possible alternative to the interior sum m it, so long as not enough extensive investigation has been done there. Either way, the violent destruction of Shiloh can be assigned to circa JOso, in good agreement with the historical record for the election of Sau l in opposition to the Phil istine, Ammonite, and other menaces to early Israel.
(2) Gibeah of Sal/I/of Benjamin

Saul's capita l, once he had assumed his kingship, this place is now conceded to have been at Tell el-FLlI, a few miles north of Jerusalem, on an isolated, defensible bluff overlooking the main road north and south of it. 3l Upon this strategic point was found an Iron I occupation replaced (at an interval) by a for t ress ("I"), subsequently refurbished ("J["), and then later in disllse. The oldest level may reflect the Gibeah of Judg. 19-20 . The excavations by Albright, checked by Lapp, would favor the view that it was Saul who built the first fortress, later repaired by him or David. The first fort (quadrangular) had at least one rectangular corner-tower at its sou thwest angle; it may have had others at the other corners, but no traces were detected. This would be the setting of Saul's activities at Gibeah in 1 Samuel. Not far north was Geba, with a confusingly similar name. There the Philistines sought to establish a central stranglehold in the heart of Saul's kingdom, hence the bold action of Jonathan (1 Sam . 14:1), before his exploit at nearby Michmash.

(3) Ot/JeT Places of Interest

Saul's wars with the Philistines involved him, young David, and Israel. When the Philistines captured the ark of the covenant, they installed it first in Dagon's temple at Ashdod and then inland at Gath and at Ekron, before sending it back up to the Hebrews (1 Sam . 5) . Ashdod is well attested lnchaeologically, by its 97


strata XII -X, for the twelfth to tenth cent uries as an important Philistine city.n With good reason, Gath is now identified with Tell es-Safi (Tel Zafit); it and Ekro n lie little more than fi fteen miles inland from Ashdod . The location of Gath here (close to the land of Judah) fits well with the Goliath incident (I Sam. 17) and as a close-by refuge for David escaping Saul's hand (I Sam . 21:\0- 22:1; 27- 28); archaeological traces indicate that it flourished during the Iron Ages I and 11 .33 A few miles north of Gath, Ekro n is now clearly set at Tel Miqne by an inscription; it was a major new Philistine center during the twelfth -eleventh centuries (then it was destroyed), as extensive excavat ions show. 34 Ascalon and Gaza also shared in returning the ark (6:17); extensive work at Ascalon and traces from Gaza illustrate the Philistine period at these sites. l ) The archaeology of Early Iron Beth -Shan (on whose walls the Phil istines hung the bodies of Saul and his sons) has now been clarified. The Egyptian -ruled settlement (stratum Lower VI ) crashed in flames in the mid-to-late twelfth century. By about 1100 a new township (stratum Upper VI) was built by Canaanites (and possibly with some Sea People settlers), which lasted a century or so to the tenth century - this was the Seth-Shan of Saul's decease and display. This, too, was destroyed in turn, and replaced (in stratum Lower V) by a new set of buildings on a different plan (with a governor's residence?) and typically Israelite red -slipped, burnished pottery. These facts would indicate an Israelite takeover after Saul's time, logically under David/Solomon.36


(0 Among the Mini -Empires

A fact that is almost totally unknown to nearly all commentators on 2 Sam . 8 to 1 Kings II is that the scale and nature of the wider realm of David and Solomon are IJOt unique and belong to a specific period of history, namely, ca. 1200 - 900 - neither earlier nor later. The evidence for this is strictly factual, mostly from sources hardly heard of by such commenta tors, but clear in its import. The limits are set by the demise of the great Egyptian and Hittite Late Bronze Age em pires within 1200/1180, just before our period (introducing it), and by the rise and initial expansion of the Neo-Assyria n Empire within circa 870 - 850 and onwa rd, just follow ing our period . Not too long before its breakup under the im pact of external attack, the Hittite Empire was already indulging in devolution. The kings of Carchemish in north Syria (cousins of the emperors) had become effective viceroys of Syria on the central power's behalf; and the kings of Ta rhuntassa in southeast Asia Minor then in effect obtained the same status in


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Saul, David, and Solomon

their region . With the fall of the capital and cent ral power of Haui, circa 1180, t hese two viceroyalties became independent mini-great powers in their own right, in their regions in Asia Minor and north Syria . During the later twelfth century the Arameans began to expand notably in north and central Syria, creating power centers in Zobah and Damascus by the early tenth - when Israel in turn reputedly became their successful rival for a season. We now follow through qu ickly the history of these mini -empires, in chronological and geographical (north to south) succession .

(a) Tile Mini -Empire of TarllurJtassa/ Tabal (Soutlleast Asia Minor to Nortllwest of tile Carcllemisll Zone)
Among the successors of Kurunta (contemporary of the last kings of the Hittite Empire) is most likely to be reckoned a rule r and "Great King" named Hartapus, son (and doubtless successor) of a Mursilis, the latter bearing a name from his imperial forebears. And possibly the "Great King" Ir-Tesub, who left a stela at Karahoyiik- Elbistan, on the borders of Ta r hunt ass a and the Carchemish Zone. 37 Their ultimate successors in this remote region, some centuries later, were the "Great Kings" of Tabal, ending with Wassurme, deposed by the Assyrians circa 730/729. 38 These great kings ofTabal ruled over a series of vassals (hence t heir title as Ugreat"); in 837 Shalmaneser III boasts of receiving gifts from "24 kings of Tabal," who would be such vassals.39 Cf. fig . 15.\.

(b) Tile Mini -Empire ofCa rcflemislJ (Southeast Asia Mino r, North Syria, and West Bend of the EuplJratesJW
Here, in the viceregal city of Carchemish, Talmi-Tesup (contemporary of the last Hittite emperor, Suppiluliuma II) was succeeded by his own son Kuzi-Tesup (1); he, or a like-named successor, assumed the title "Great King." Carchemish took for its own the zone of its former rule, and in fact maybe more as well. In the east the future principalities of Bit -Adini and Gozan bore Carchemishian rule between the Euphrates and the Habur River. To the northeast Melid (Malatya) and Kummuh were vassals. To the northwest and west Gurgum, the eventual Sam-aI, and Unqi (Patinu) came under Carchemish, with Arpad and the larger entity of Hamath to the south. [n Melid a junior branch of the Carchemish royal t:.mily held sway, from a grandson of Kuzi-Tesup (I or 1I).41 By 1100 Tiglath -pileser I distinguished clearly between a king of Haiti (and so, of Carchemish), [ni-Tesup (II), and one Allumari, king in Malatya . So, by 1100 Melid was in effect the ally


but maybe no longer the vassal of the Carchemishian "Great King." Then, in the tenth century, the ascendancy of Carchemish fell apart. By perhaps 985 the Aramean Adin founded the realm of Bit-Adini at Til Barsip in the western bend of the Euphrates, probably as a subject ally of Hadadezer of Zobah . One Bakhian set up his kingdom at Gozan (it becoming Bit-13akhiani). Thus Carchemish lost its eastern possessions. Westward, Gurgum (at Mar'ash) broke away under its own line of nine kings, from Astuwatimais (ca. 990?) down to Halparuntas II!, while in Sam'al any local Luvian rule was replaced by an Aramean regime from Gabbar onward (ca. 920 and following). Finally, to the south, Hamath was probably detached from the rule of Care hem ish by Hadadezer of Aram -Zobah about 1000, only to be replaced as suzerain-ally by David of Israel, circa 990. Thus, within circa 1000 to 980 (Sam 'al later?), Carchem ish lost virtually all of its vassal territories, becoming simply a large city-state.42 Circumstances having changed irrevocably, the last Great King, Ura -Tarhuns, had as a successor Suhis 1, who kept only the simple title "King," no longer Great King. After almost 200 years, this (mini) -empire was over. Cf. fig . 15 . 2.

(c) The Mit/i -Empire of Amm-Zobah (Euphrates Western Bet/d, over Hamath and to the South of Damascus)
This ephemeral power is known to us from 2 Sam . 8, iO and hinted at by an Assyrian reference (cf. above, p. 94). From Aram itself (either Damascus or Zobah) we do not possess even olle narrative inscription; only the fragmentary Tell Dan stela found in Israelite territory, and rare mentions of rulers by the Assyrians (ninth century and following) . So, apart from a few fragments, we are thrown back on the Old Testament narratives for Aram, precisely as for Israel. But if we patiently analyze these, something can be gained . Hadadezer's realm, of (Aram-)Zobah (cf. 2 Sam. 8:3, 5,12; 10:8), was also known as Beth - Rehab (10:6; both terms conjoined), or "House of Rehab," just like Bayt -Dawid, "House of David," and many more examples. 4J Hadadezer is called "son of Rehab" (8:3, 12), which may well have been true if Rehab had been his father and immediate predecessor. But in the Assyrian sources it is also a way of referring to a successor of a dynastic founder (direct or otherwise, related or otherwise); witness the well -known example of Shalmaneser Ill's reference to "Jehu son of Omri," which is simply an idiom for "Jehu (ruler) of Beth -Omri" (B it Khumri, in Akkadian), as long since pointed out. So Hadadezer "son" of Rehab could possibly be Hadadezer (ruler) of Beth- Rehob, at some interval after the time of Rehob. 44 Clearly the Aramean realm of Hadadezer consisted of a heart land, Zobah, cen tered on his patrimony of Beth- Rehob (cf. Israel and Judah un .00

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der David and Solomon), and then of an "empire" of tributary lesser states and chiefdoms, whom Hadadezer (and Rehob before hi m?) had brought under po~ litical control (again, as did David, with Transjordan, and the Arameans also) . This is reflected in these passages: 2 Sam. 10:19, citing Hadadezer's vassals (on his south?), local "kings," who fell away to Davidj and implicitly in 2 Sam. 8:), when Hadadezer deemed it vital to "restore his control" up by the Euphrates, and thus over local rulers there. We fi nd such vassals in Aram- Damascus also, at a later date, in the thirty-two "kings" that supported a l3enhadad against Israel (I Kings 20:1). Zobah is at times located west or north of Damascus. It is probably at least a part of the Biqa Valley, between the Lebanon and AntiLebanon mountain ranges. In Gen . 22:24 the line ofNahor via Reumah ran to Tebah, Gaham (unknown), Tahash, and Maacah . These form a north-south se quence: Tebah, the Tubikhi of the Amarna lettersj 4S then Tahash, equivalent to Takhsi in Egyptian lists (in Upe, from Qadesh -on -Orontes southward)j46 then Maacah, east of Lakes Huleh and Ga lilee, with Geshur. This Tebahrrubikhi is probably identical with the Tebah/l3etah of 2 Sam . 8:8 (cf. I Chron . 18:8) . Thus it lay in parallel with Aram -Damascus, based on the oasis area of the town of Da mascus. From east of earlier Qadesh-on-Orontes, Hadadezer had imposed his rule up to the Euphrates (perhaps via Tadmor), reducing urban and triba l entities to vassaldom, and exercised influence on the Arameans living north within the great west bend of th at river (as at Bit-Adini), whence he summoned forces (d. 2 Sam. 10 :16). Hadadezer probably overawed both Aram -Damascus to his southeast and Hamath to his north, and thus we can see the outlines of his mini-empire as it was before David's intervention : ( I) a "homeland" area in the Biqa Valley, based on the enclave of Beth- Rehab (Hadadezer's dynasty's home patch)j (2) conquests oflesser chiefdoms northeast to the Euphrates and southward toward Maacah and GeshuTj (3) subject all ies in Aram -Damascus to the immediate east (cf. 2 Sam. 8:5), and in Hamath (unwillingly) in the north. David's intervention broke this up. Geshur allied itself with Israel (cf. 2 Sam. j:),5j 13:37-39, for Geshur); Maacah may have become his vassal. Hamath sided with t he new power Israel (and remained independent from Solomon's day unt il Assyrian dominance)j Zobah was eclipsed, and from Solomon's time it was replaced as an Aramean power by Damascus. 47 Cf. fig. 15.).

(d) The Mini -Empire of David and Solomon in Israel (from over Hall/ath to Philistial Negev)
We now come to our fourth and last mini -empire in this coherent series.4 8 It shows analogies in both format and history with the three preceding. We will


sketch concisely the history and "hierarchy" that is visible in the Hebrew sources.
(I ) Historical Development

Saul's realm had been beset in part by physical disunity: the city-state enclave of Jerusalem l:ly between Judah and Ephraim :lnd the Jezreel Valley, dominated by such alien forts :IS Megiddo and Beth-Sh:ln, between Ephraim and Galilee. From this situation David moved on in three phases. First, once he had control in both Judah and Israel, he sought promptly to unify his realm - first securing Jerusalem, transforming it from a line of division into a focus for both halves of his realm, by making it his capital (d the picturesque but condensed summary in 2 Sam. 5:6 -10), specifically as the "City of David," or "Davidopolis," following long -established Near Eastern custom. 49 Then he cou ld proceed to annex various important strong points to his realm: Megiddo and Beth -Shan in the Jeueel Valley and Rehob to its south, plus strategic Hazer in Galilee to the north . This we know not from the Bible but entirely from archaeological exploratio n (cf. below on Solomon, the archaeological section) . Second, with a unified core realm David could then cow the Philistines to the west (to protect Ju dah and western Ephraim) and subjugate Moab and Edom to the east (to safeguard Gilead in the north and the Arabah route south) . The Philistines remained independent. But Edam for sure (local dynasty dethroned; cf. I Kings 11:14-22) and probably Moab (cf. 2 Sam. 8:2) were made tributary under direct rule by deputies. This fate also befell Aram-Damasclls, where key garrisons were installed after Hadadezer's defeat (8:6), and probably Aram -Zobah with Hadadezer's ecl ipse . So, east and north of the core kingdom we have largely directly dependent tribute-paying territories. The third phase of David's movement entailed other entities that were in all probability subject allies, varying from virtually independent like Toi of Hamath (8:9 -10) to protectorate status, as with Ammon, where the hostile King Hanun was doubtless dethroned and his more pliant brother Shobi installed instead (who was loyal to David correspondingly; cf. 17:27). Geshur may also belong here, having had close links with David (3:3; cf. the Absalom aft:,ir, 13:37 -38 and 14:22 -32; 15:8). Outside these and the "empire" stood independent foes (Philistia) and friends (Tyre).
(2 ) Hierarchies

Thus David's mini-empire would have included three levels of rule: home core, subjugated territories (under governors and subject kings), and subject allies, less closely tied to Israel's regime.50 Similar profiles appear in the cases of the

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other mini -empires also. With Tabal we may compare twenty-four "kings" who would have been the vassals of its "great king," he reigning in his core territory; t he sources here do not suffice as yet to exhibit the level of "subject ally." With Carchemish we find a surrounding swath of vassal territories and incipient kingdoms, all of which eventually broke away in the tenth century. The special link with Melid (through the royal family) would give it the status initially of subject ally, until the blood link thinned and evaporated in the course oftime. With Aram -Zobah, Hadadezer had a series of vassals under him, to his south (Aram-Damascus, Maacah, Tob, etc.), and unnamed ones up north to the Eu phrates. As for subject allies, Hamath was an unwilling subject in some measure, while l3it-Adini was (as also Aramean) a more friendly subject ally (the nearest trans-Euphratean princedom that could have helped with troops) . All four of our mini-empires took over defeated opponents and their territories as they stood, without much territorial change; thus such units could readily break away as natural political entities when the central power weakened. It is a considerable contrast with the vast Neo -Assyrian, Neo- l3abylonian, and Persian empires, where (increasingly) new large-scale provinces became the norm (like Ebir-nari for t he whole Levant, and Persian satrapies), and their internal provinces were often not coeval with former kingdoms conquered (e.g., Dor, or Gilead under Assyria) . Thus our four mini -empires, including that of David and Solomon, are all of a piece, belong to a specific era, and found no equivalent successo rs ever again . If the Assyrians had never come west in the ninth to seventh centuries, then we need not doubt that the kings of Aram -Damascus would undoubtedly have achieved a fifth such local imperium in the Levant; but a resurgent Assyria systematically destroyed that dream . On the internal front, David's regime shows development beyond that of Saul. As we saw, Saul had his inform al "court" of up to 600 braves and ot hers, had his aides, developed an army with a commander in chief and officers ("chiefs of thousands," etc.), and was levying taxation in some form; "Gibeah of Saul" was his simple precursor (as a royal, central capital) to the "City of David" t hat followed. For his part, we learn that David also had an army commander in chief, but also a body of "the Thirty" notables and heroes (in fact, up to thirtyseven men), a royal bodyguard of Pelethites and Kerethites (foreigners who were totally "king's men"), plus men of Gath (from his old Philistine days, under one Ittai) . On the nonmilitary front there was a "recorder,"a secretary, two priests and a king's chaplain, and king's sons possibly as counselors. Cf. 2 Sam . 8:15-18, and 23:8-39. Add to these the counselors Ahithophel and Hushai (cf. 16:15- 17:23). So there had arisen a nucleus of court government for an expanding kingdom; as under Saul, the basis of rule away from Jerusalem would still have been through heads of tribes in t heir areas (cf. 1 Chron. 27:16-22). Admin>0)


istrators of royal properties are listed (2T25 -31). Outside Israel and Judah, governors would rule in subject territories when local chiefs and kings were not retained as vassals . The use of garrisons in such territories (as in AramDamascus, 2 Sam . 8:6) would most likely be restricted to small groups of seasoned militia at key points, very much as Egypt had done in days past in the Levant, with messengers ready to take any news of revolt swiftly back to home To contrast David and Solomon's mini-empire with later maxi-empires, see the map in fig . 14.

(3) Other Aspects of Life

Besides success in war, there is a persistent stream of tradition that links David with instrumental music (ct: I Sam. 16:15- 23; 19:9) and with poems (e.g., a lament, 2 Sam. 1:17- 27; 2}:l -7) and hymns ("psalms"; 2 Sam. 22 = Ps. 18; Psalms, passim). It should occasion no surprise that either shepherd lads or kings should be involved with both in the biblical world. Alongside the fact of a vast treasury of scribally transmitted hymns and poetry, and data on musicianship in that ancient world, one may draw attention to three aspects related to David's case: popular poetry and hymns, royal participation in these arts, and the conventions of such poetics. In all three aspects David's case fits in naturally with what we learn from elsewhere. First, poetry and song had always been part of the life of the common people, not just of ruling elites in antiquity. s2 Here the most accessible source is Egypt. Almost two thousand years before the shepherd boy David, herdsmen are shown singing melancholy ditties in the Pyramid Age already, as are the more cheerful bearers of the carrying cha irs of the great (third m i1Jennium) .S ) Already in the Middle Kingdom (early second millennium), a thousand years before David played for Saul, people were commonly entertained by harpists playing and singing their songs. Sti1l1ater, in the New Kingdom, besides more harpists (later second millennium), plowmen, reapers, and threshers sing their rural snatches. And short rhapsodies of joy come forth at festival banquets and even picnics in the garden. Besides these we have a wealth of love lyrics, celebrating the joys and frustrations of boy- meets-girl. And finally, in the thirteenth-twelfth centuries, down to little more than a century before David's time, we have a remarkable series of prayers and hymns to their gods by the workmen of the royal tombs, preserved on their modest monuments in Western Thebes: confessions of sin, words of contrition, pleas for divine mercy, and thanksgiving for healing and deliverances. 54 Here we come relatively close to the spirit of bibl ical psalmody, as has long been recognized. A David (even as a shepherd or a youthful harpist) stood in a long, frui tful tradition of poetry,

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popular as well as "official," expressive of relations with deity as well as with one's fellows . Second, kings participated in such arts. Already in the Egypt of close on 2000 B.C., the venerable Theban king Intef II waxes lyrical in his very personal praise of the goddess Hathor, in his exuberant hymn, engraved on one of the stelae at his tomb. ss Over in Mesopotamia three hundred years earlier, the great Sargon of Akkad's daughter, Princess En-khedu-anna, had composed two hymns to the goddess Inanna and the second edition of the Sumerian Temple Hymns (forty-two hymns in all) - making her the first authoress in history.s6 Almost a thousand years after her, back in Egypt (and three centuries before King David), we find the sun-worshiping "monotheistic" pharaoh Akhenaten praising the sun god as the visible Disc (Atel1) with an atmospheric royal fervor, touching on humanity and other creatures in a fashion common both to Ps. ]04 and to other hymnody from both Egypt (for Amen-Re) and Assyria (for the moon and sun gods).S7 Thus David would be no oddity in being a royal author of religious poetry, after his shepherd days were long past. Third, we eXllmine how the usages of biblical pSlllmody ( Davidic or otherwise) fit into the Nellr Eastern cultural context.58 The forms and convent ions of biblical poetry, so familiar in the Psalms, go back in origin two thousand years before David's time. Exactly as in Sumerian, Akkadian, Egyptian, and other West Semitic literature (e.g., Ugaritic), so in biblical Hebrew poetry the basic building block is the two-line couplet (or "bicolon"), foundation stone of poetic "parallelism." A pair of thought units or "lines" can be used to state a concept twice, using different expressions (synonymous); or to develop the thought in the second line (synthetic); or to express a contrast in the two successive lines (antithetic). One may enrich the style by having three lines in parallel ("tricolon"), four lines in parallel in varying combinations ("qu:ltrain"), or even l:lrger units. So one may exemp lify (using couplets):
Synonymous: (identical concepts) Synthetic: (thought extended)

Adore Amun, and he will guard you, exalt Amen-Re, and he will keep you safe. Pharaoh has slain his foes, the Flllcon hlls destroyed their ci ties llnd crops. Now, pal a dog and il will love you, but hit the canine and it will bi te you.


With three- and four-line and larger units, more variations are open to poels, and other devices can be used : ellipse of part of a second (or other) line(s) 10 reduce repetition and tighten style; or "chiasmus," where key elements


occur in reverse order in the two successive lines, e.g., of a couplet. Thus the couplet: For [ give praise to Hathor, I give glory to my Golden One, written as an ell ipse: I give praise to Hathor, glory to my Golden One, and as a chiasmus (A . .. B, then B ... A): Hath or welcomes me at her shrine, from her Sa/lctum, I hear a word from the Golden One. Many other devices were also in full use from the third millennium down to Roman times, but with different periods of use or popularity, in differen t classes of literatu re. All these "tlowers of style" had been in full use for nearly two millennia prior to David, were in full use in his day, and many of them for long afterward, appearing in a wide range of biblical poetry, not just his. So, in terms of custom and technique, there is no reason to date biblical poetry any later than the claims made for various ex.amples of it in the Hebrew text. The contexts of poetry by David ( Ps. 18 in 2 Sam. 22), Hezekiah (1sa . 38:9-20), and Habakkuk (chap. 3; cf. p) make it clear that authorsh ip is there intended . Likewise in Pss. 3, 7, 34, 51, 52,56, 57, 59, 60, 63, 142, which equally (like Ps. 18 = 2 Sam. 22) are linked with events in David's life and career. An authorship by Dav id may also be true of other psalms simply headed 1- Dwd, "for" or "belonging to David ." Otherwise, this kind of heading would denote belonging to a Davidic collection, just as (in Ugaritic) / - 'qht means on certain tablets "belonging to (the series on) 'Aqhat," or about him, or dedicated to him. Many psalm head ings have notations now difficult to understand - possible references to musical tunes, types of songs or prayers, also to other personnel, such as "the director of music." T hese notes illustrate the use of such psalms in the worship of YHWH in his tent and then temple in Jerusalem - as seen in 1 Chron. 16, where excerpts from other, non- Davidic psalms (105, 96, 106) were used at the ark's induction into David's tent shrine in Jerusalem . It should be noted that these psalm headings are obscure simply because they are ancient - being no longer fully understood when the Psalms were translated into Greek (for the Septuagint Old Testament) in the third or second century B.C. Full liturgical usages of Solomon's temple fell out of use for over half a century wh ile it lay in ru .06

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ins (586 -538 and following); not all of that ceremonial would be restored at the opening of the Second Temple in 515; it would probably be in a simpler form. So ancient headings p<1ssed out of <1ctive use, <1nd thus out of currency. The use of titles, colophons, <1nd terminology for vuious kinds of hymns and pS<1lms is widely <1ttested in the biblic<1l world, from many centuries before D<1vid's time, <1nd remained habitua l down to his time and long afterward. So biblic<11 titles and terms are a norm<1l phenomenon. From the early second millennium in Mesopotamia, we h<1ve Sumeri<1n hymns of variolls kinds i<1beled as ersilemma, balbale, shag idda, etc., <1nd used in the cults of the gods. They could be sung on different occasions, not just in one setting; cult hymns could pass into persona l use, and personal psalms could pass into the service of the cult. Hence it can be no surpr ise to see biblical psalms in both contexts (personal and cultic). The content of a piece may not hwe any reference to its pl<1ce in the cult. Musical terms are quoted with hymns from the early second millennium onward (balag, "song with a harp"; crshclI1l11a, "lament with a shclI1 -drum"; etc.).59 Also, many Egyptian compositions bear titles, those attributed to personal piety in particular (thirteenth-t welfth centuries) .60 The use of music C<1n be specified, as in Mesopot<1mi<1n and Hittite contexts (instruments <1nd song specified to be performed either separately or in unison).61 AI Egyptian festivals in the New Kingdom (esp. 1300-1150), dancers and musicians are shown in temple scenes and their hymnody is quoted in the scenes.62 All this gives us the conceptu<11 setting of what we find in descriptions of Hebrew uS<1ge as pre served (e.g.) in I Chron . 15- 16,25 when the uk was inst<1lled in )erus<1lem and musiC<11 provision was planned for the temple. There is nothing artificial here, it is precisely what one would expect .


Here we will consider appropriate background in the same sequence of themes outlined from the biblical dat<1, <1bove, before looking <1t the possible cont ributions from the physic<1l <1rch<1eology of Palestine for this overall period and coming to a concluding review of the whole.

(i) Foreign Relations: Egypt

VVe return to a pharaoh who conquered Gezer (I Kings9:16), and then gave it as a dowry with his daughter in a marriage alliance with Solomon (3:1; 9:16, 24; cf. 7:8; 11 :1). The possible identity of such a king plus the significance of his action


against Gezer and the question of an int ernational marriage alliance are two separate issues.

(aJ Pharaoll and Gezer

As has been established quite clearly above, pp. 82 (for 931/930) and 85-88 (for Solomon), there is presently no factual reason to doubt that Solomon died in 931/ 930, after reigning forty years, i.e., from 971/970. On the other side o f the divide, it is also very clear that indepelldwt Egyptian dates can be established from 664 back to circa 945 and the start of the Twenty-Second Dynasty within very close limits. (A recent claim that Egyptian dates around 945/925 cannot be established within a margin o f some fifty years [ca. 979 -922 1 is an incompetent nonsense that can be dismissed from further notice.)6l Thus, close on 945 also marks the end of the Twenty-First Dynasty. The number and identity of the kings and lengths of reigns in this dynasty can be very closely determined. From the actual firsthand monuments, we have seven kings, thus: ( 1) (Ne)siba nebdje(d), (2) Neferkare Amenemnisu, probably preceding (3) PSllsennes I (throne name, Akheperre), (4) Amenemope, (5) Osorkon the Elder, (6) Siamun, and finally (7) Psusennes II (throne name, Tyetkheperre) . The Twenty- First Dynasty happens to be quite well preserved in the text of Manetha's lists, also with seven kings, these being: (I) Smendes, (2) Psusennes (I), (3) Nepherkheres, (4) Amenophth is, (5) Osochor, (6) Psi naches, and (7) a Psusennes (II). These correspond closely to the seven kings known from actual monuments, and in the same order (with only one minor exception) . The regnal years also correspond very closely from both the mon uments and Manelho; only with Siamun (attested to Year 17) does Psi naches at nine years in Manetho fall a decade short (9 from [119 years) . Thus the entire line ran from 1070 or 1069 down to 945. The last king, Psusennes II, can be given an independent reign of fourteen or fifteen years (960/959-945). Then Siamun's nineteen years would cover 979/978-960/959. Therefore he is the one obvious ruler to be considered the contemporary of the first ten years of Solomon's reign, 9711 970-961/960. For Siam un, we do have evidence for contact in the Levant, but for no other king of the dynasty (and certainly not for his successor, Psusennes II). Only in the burial of Psusennes I was there found an Assyrian bead that was an heirloom from an earlier reign, and not evidence for active links abroad in his time. Thus Siamun is, and remains thus far, the sole serious candidate for the roles of conqueror of Gezer and would -be father-in-law to Solomon on purely chronological grounds. And from him alone in the Twenty- First Dynasty so far we have a reasonable piece of evidence that he did intervene in the Levant. This

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is the well -known frllgment of a triumphlll scene from Tanis, executed in stone from a temple structure. It shows the king in typiclll pose, brandishing a mace to strike down a bunch of prisoners(?) now lost at the right except for two llrms and hands, one of which grasps a remarkable double-bladed ax by its socket (fig. 18A). Above the king are his cartouches. Despite a ridiculous denial to the contrary (alleging "an unidentified king"!),64 these cartouches read with all possible clarity: [Neterkheperre Setepena1l11l1l), Siamun beloved of Am lun ], with just one Amun sign partly broken off (but restorable from ample examples of this king's very characteristic titles). Much nonsense has been written just recently against this piece (mainly by non- Egyptologists, not competent to comment on it).65 The facts are as fol lows. (I) Formal triumph scenes of this kind from temple structures commonly commemorate kings who fought wars. Only in their secondary use as decoration in "minor art" (on sides of state barges, furnishings, etc.) do such scenes serve merely as idealistic icons of royal power. Thus Siamun's temple triumph scene should be trellted seriously; nobody is (yet) known to have hlld one since !hmesses VI some 140 years earlier (defeated Libyans in the Thebaid), and im perial kings earlier still .66 After Siam un, Shoshenq I (Shishak) had such scenes in two temples - and then nobody thereafter (on present knowledge) until the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty, which had WllfS in the Levant and with Assyria. So the practicallikeJihood is that this scene should be treated as a fair indicator of military action of some kind by Siamun - who (along with Psusennes I) was the most active ruler of the Twenty-First Dynasty.67 (2) The fragmentary foes hold a remarkable weapon . This is, and can only be, II double-blllded battle-ax or halberd. At its inner edge it c1ellrly has a socket, from which protrudes a (wooden) shaft or handle, now largely broken away with the bottom part of the stone slab. The foeman grasps the ax by the socket where the shaft protrudes. That the shaft appears to leave the socket at slightly less than the expected angle to the blade is either very slight artistic license or may indicate that the shaft is broken just where it leaves the socket, and is thus rendered powerless to harm the pharaoh . This mental attitude reappears in the great triumph scene of Shoshenq I at Karnak, where the foes helplessly grasp daggers by their blades, not the handles. This all has to be spelled out, because the details are clear on the original and on the original photograph - bllt 110ton the very commonly reproduced line drawing (erroneOliS in detllil!) used by so many would -be commentators lit second hllnd. This is an ax - and 110t a shield, or handcuffs (fig. 1813) or halter or whatever. It is of unique type, unparalleled in Canaan with the indigenous culture there at any time; Palestinian double-bladed ax heads are wholly different in shape (like an X), having no rounded, sharply flared form . The Aegean cultures offer


the nearest analogies, although not precise. This piece may thus reflect a Phil istine/Sea Peoples foe, as they certai nly came from that zone (or beyond) into Canaan at the beginning of the twelfth century. The fact that Siamun's scene includes a unique fea ture (not just a commonplace weapon) would speak for it reflecting a specific event. By contrast, the foes of Tuthmosis [[I in a Karnak scene hold axes of "duck-bill" type of traditional Canaanite design; they were obsolete then, but without effect on the historicity of his scene and its accompanying list of foreign place-names. (3) Any Egyptian army that marched by the customary route into the Levant (along the Sinai Mediterranean coast road) always came first to Gaza, then into the very region that had become Philistia in the twelfth century. On the inland route north from Gath and Ekron, Canaanite Gezer was the next major settlement of any strategic import. No pharaoh would mount a campaign in Canaan merely to capture Gezer (and then, just to give it to a neighbor state). Any campaign here (by Siamun or any other Egyptian king) had to have a larger purpose. A pharaoh's gift of Gezer to Solomon would hardly be altruistic; he must have gained by the campaign so as to make that transaction worthwhile. What is more, as Gezer guarded an important route up to Jerusalem, its cession to Solomon would be of value to him, as a frontier fort adjoining Philistia. In summary, the two pieces of data (Siamun's rel ief; the passage in 1 Kings 9:16-17) make good political sense when set together, in the context of a possible alliance of Egypt (Siamun) and Israel (Solomon) . If (for example) the Philistines had impeded, or overcharged tolls on, transit traffic through their terrain (or along their coast) that affected both Egypt and Israel, then the two may have colluded to end the menace by allying against and subduing Phi[istia. Siamun will have launched a strong police action through Gaza, sending one force up to Ascalon and Ashdod, with his main force going over via Gath and Ekron up to Gezer, to link up with a Hebrew force making a diversionary move on the north. Out of their success, Siamun could establish suzerainty over Philistia ([evying tribute on its rich cities), while Solomon would gain the im portant border post of Gezer. If this occurred about the third year of Solomon (ca. 967), then Siamun would have enjoyed his triumph for only seven or eight years; the Philistines would have regained their full independence at his death in 960 or 959. But the Hebrew rulers retained Gezer permanently.

(b) Pharaoh's Daughter and Dowry

Recent critics have also dismissed the reported marriage alliance of the pharaoh and Solomon in 1 Kings 9:16. Time and again they have rested their flawed case

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on one single remark by Amenophis III nearly half a millennium before, that Egyptian kings' daughters were never given to anyone. 68 Hence Solomon would not be offered one. But Solomon lived not in the fourteenth century but in the tenth ! Times had changed; no vast empires now existed; the old Egyptian royal lines had long since been replaced by "new men" not tied to the ways of four hundred years before - any more than (in Britain) subjects of Elizabeth II are t ied to the full cultural norms obta ining under Elizabet h I, four centuries before. The entirely unjusti fied denials by Old Testament scholars notwithstanding, the following facts are clear. No New Kingdom pharaoh is ever known to have given a daughter to either a foreigner or a commoner. The one near exception was Ankhsenamun, widow ofTutankhamun, who wrote to the Hittite emperor Suppiluliuma [ requesting of hi m a son in marriage (to make him king in Egypt).69 [n stark contrast, the period of the Twenty- First- Twenty-Third Dynasties is precisely when we do find kings' daughters being married off to commoners and foreigners?O While still king, Psusennes I I (last king of the TwentyFirst Dynasty, 960/959- 945) gave his daughter Maatka re in marriage to Osorkon, son of the Libyan chief of the Ma(shwash), Shoshenq - the later Shoshenq I and Osorkon J. At this ti me Libyans were still considered foreigners by most Egyptians; the clearest possible example is the way the Theban priests at first dated by Shoshenq I /Jot as full king with cartouches, etc., but instead d isdainfully by: "Year 2 ... of the Great Chief of the Ma, Shoshe(n)q," adding t he foreigner sign to Shoshenq's name! See fig . l7.7 1 There had been intermarriage between Shoshenq's family and t he Twenty-First Dynasty before this; and King Osorkon the Elder had been of (Egypto)-Libyan parentage. 72 Various Twenty-Second y kings married off their daughters to commoners (higher priesthood, viziers, etc.) - practices entirely unheard of four cent uries earlier! Thus t here is I/O problem in Siamun giving a daughterto a foreign ruler (especially ifhe himself were of Libyan blood) at this time, and biblical scholars will have to accept that fact; Amenophis [II's old -style prejudice way back in 1357 is irrelevant to "modern" 967! Regarding the care of eX<llted foreign princesses, twice it is remarked (l Kings 7:8; 9:24) that Solomon built a fitting abode for his llew Egyptian bride, as part of his palace complex in Jerusalem. This kind of provision for particularly distinguished ladies is also known elsewhere (and earl ier) in the biblical world. In both the Egyptian and cuneiform sources we learn that Ramesses II was building his first Hittite bride "ample villas [in her] name" (Egyptian), and in cuneiform "a fine house(?)," as Edel also noticed. H On the question of Cezer as dowry, a series of igl10rmlti have remarked that Cezer as a "smoking ruin" was not much of a dowry, contrasting it also with Amarna-period and Egypto- Hilt ite usage. 74 However, yet again they have


totally misread the facts. First, Gezer was taken, its Canaanite population slain, and the settlement torched (how completely is 1I0t stated). What Solomon in reality received with Pharaoh's d:lUghter was (:I) :I (p:lrti:lily?) cleared fortress town-site open to be developed in any way he wished (which is wh:lt he did, along with Hazar and Megiddo; 1 Kings 9:15-17); (b) a prime site strategically guarding a major route up to Jerusalem, his own capital; and (c) a complete city-state territory, to add to his re:llm - no town like Gezer was without its dependent :lgricu1tur:ll/pastoral hinterland! Second, it ag:lin is pointless to apply second -millennium usage on dowries and ceremonies to events as late as 967 without producing supporting data. Times had long since changed, as already demonstrated on marriages above. Royal wedding gifts in 1350 could amount to well over 200,000/$275,000 worth of gold and other items; the real estate worth ofGezer as site and territory we cannot calculate. [t was a different kind of transaction in another age. What is more, one should remember that the mentions of Solomon's Egyptian princess are brief, because they are almost incidental (in contexts of building works, etc.); so rites like anointing and other detailed gifts simply would not be mentioned, as being irrelevant to the main purpose of the narrative. So, too, under H:lmesses J!: anointing occurs exclusively in the cuneiform record, while wea lth (for dowry) is mainly in the Egyptian texts (with but one lurid exception).7 ~ In short, the recently attempted critiques of the role of Siamun and of the allusions to Egypt in 1 Kings 3-11 are so badly flawed as to be worthless on present evidence.

(ii ) Relations with Phoenicia

(aJ Royal Letters
The exchanges of letters between Hiram and Solomon reflect long-accepted usage in royal, international correspondence. It was the custom for neighboring kings to congratulate a new ruler on his accession (as did Hiram, 1 Kings S:I; cf. Suppiluliuma [ for a pharaoh, EA 41).76 And kings from of old had requested materials for building or adorning temples and palaces, for payment (as here, 1 Kings 5:6, 9ff.) or in gift exchanges (EA 4,9,16,19), as well as other expertise - be it craftsmen (I Kings 7: 13 -47; 2 Chron. 2:12 -14; cf. Egyptian carpentry, EA 10) or persons of other skills, e.g., medical (Egyptia n physicians going to the Hittite court under Ramesses 11).77 Invocations of deity and divine blessings (cf.1 Kings 5:1 -7 passim; 2 Chron. 2:3 -12) are well known in such correspondence, as in the Amarna letters of the fourteenth century and roya l letters from Uga rit and Emar and Egypto-Hittite royal letters of the thirteenth century?8


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The economics of Solomon's first agreement (or treat y) with Hiram of

Tyre fit in well with the known scale of economy of Levantine kingdoms. The
20,000 kors of grain paid annually to Hiram for his timber and laborers (I Kings 5:6, 9, ll) would have required the crop from about 262 acres or just over I square kilometer of land in each of Solomon's twelve administrative dis tricts, not an excessive amount of product . After comparing Solomon's figures with what we know from the phys ically much smaller kingdom of Ugarit, Heltzer also observed that, for Solomon, "the figures are by no means exagger~ ated."79

(b) Small Points

Sometimes minor details pop up and strike the eye. In Solomon's first letter back to Hiram king of Tyre, he writes that "we have nobody so skilled at timber-fell ing as the Sidonians" (not "Tyrians"), in 1 Kings j:6. The remark arises from the fact (visible in variOllS sources) that in previous centuries it was Sidon, not Tyre, that was dominant in Phoenicia, and so "Sidonians" could be used as a synonym for "Phoenicians," not only for people of Sidon itself, even by Solomon's time, when Tyre had overtaken Sidon in importance.M Another is the lise of Phoenician, not Hebrew, month names in the narrat ives on the building of the Jerusalem temple - names that occur nowhere else in the Hebrew Bible (I Kings 6:\, 37-38; 8:2) .31 This is a mark of the influence of the Phoenician contribution to the build ing of that edifice; the Phoenician language of Hiram's work gangs made some short-term impact on local usage for those few years (as can happen in sim ilar contexts even today), and these t hree terms remain to us as linguistic fossi ls of that brief seven plus thirteen years of temple and palace building. There was no occasion for such ephemeral impact in Jerusalem's subsequent history.

(c) Royal Bargaining: Galilee

In due course, with the temple and palace finally completed after twenty years of investment in timber, fine stonework, bronzework, and precious metal, the time had come to regulate the accou nts and make fresh arrangements - a situ ation reflected in the very fleeting accounts in 1 Kings 9:10 - 14 and 2 Chron. 8:1 2. In the former passage we learn th<1t Solomon passed over to Hiram twenty towns in Galilee (the land ofCabul, with which Hiram was dissatisfied) in exchange fo r ti mber and gold, while in the latter passage we read that Solomon


built!rebuilt villages (number and location not stated) that Hiram had handed over to him, populating them with Israelites. A superficial view of the two passages would see them as contradictory, but the assumption that (e.g.) the Chronicler would crassly contradict Kings is naive and simplistic, and implies a lowbrow level of stupidity that we have no warrant to ascribe to that writer. The two statements are not identical, but most likely complementary, retlecting the outcome of a good old-fashioned haggle between two very wily Oriental gentlemen, a not uncommon feature in ancient royal correspondence. Given the limited resources of Tyre's own coastal plain hinterland, Hiram needed an ongoing supply of grain, oil, and wine, such as he had been paid previously by Solomon until completion ofthe building work in Jerusalem:!-2 Therefore payment of debts owed him by cession of cultivable land from Solomon would fit the bill nicely in more senses than one. David's conquests had doubtless given Israel the coastland all the way north from Accho to the natural boundary at Ras en -Nakura headland, and the terrain inland and east from there, a substantial part of the long-envisaged allotment to the tribe of Asher (Josh. 19="2-4-31). However, the Asherites had never been very effective at following lip t his "ideal" allocation, failing long since to take over this region and merely settling among the locals, as pointed out in one of the many invalu able short notices to be found in Judges (1:JI).S-3 Thus Olle may suggest that (\) Hiram proposed to Solomon that cession of the plain of Accho (and eastern upslopes) would meet his requirements; (2) Solomon proposed to Hiram that he ought have only the slopelands (shephclalJ of Galilee), not the coastal plain; (3) Hiram took a good look at them and said something rude in Phoenician (d. 1 Kings 9:13), for "no way!"Then finally, (4) the pair temporized in both directions (as good Near Eastern monarchs did). Thus Solomon gave Hiram the desired coastal plain and upslopes of Asher/land of Cabul (with up to twenty villages; 1 Kings 9:11-13), while on his part Hiram ceded upland territory to Solomon (2 Chron. 8:2), reaching north of David's probable border (along the hills east from Ras en-Nakura) into the uplands by Rama and to Qana (sout heast from Tyre and its coast plain) . Back home, each king could no doubt justify his action as a "success"; Hiram had obtained a good, arable plain, with access to the ports of Accho and Shihor-Libnath (Tell Abu Huwam), while Solomon could claim to have fulfilled a part more of Asher's ancient claims north (if in land) in place of their failure along the Mediterranean littoral. Such wheeling and deali ng was not new. Way back in the eighteenth cen tury, in north Syria, Abba -il ("Abban") king of Aleppo made exchanges of towns and territories with Yarim-Iim, the vassal ruler of Alalakhi the latter later grumbled (like a Hiram !) at the loss of two places. 84 The question of fixing a boundary crops lip in another treaty of that time, between kings of Mari and


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So Hiram and Solomo n had precursors in these and other royal


(iii ) The Horse and Chariot Trade

In recent works, Solomon's trade (I Kings 10:28 -29) between Egypt and Que (:= Cilicia in southeast Asia Minor) has been dismissed as simply Near Eastern royal propaganda, without any serious regard for the background evidence. It is alleged that horses were not bred in Egypt, and that evidence for horse trade is not knownY However, no such "propaganda line" is attested; kings speak of conquests and great buildings, not trade, in their major commemorative texts and inscriptions. As for horse breeding in Egypt, there is every reason to believe that it was practiced there. During the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Dynasties, an Egypt at war with the Hittites and Mitannians could not possibly import horses from southeast Anatolia; from the twelfth century onward Egypt had no direct lin ks with that area . So military necessity demanded that she breed her own chariot horses in the second and early first millennia . And pos itive evidence favors this. There was extensive stabling and a "horse stud" at Pi- Ramesse in the East Delta in the thirteenth century, when we also have record (ODM 1076) of the "great [mead]ow of Pi-Ramesse," with mention of horse keepers, droves of horses, and grooms and charioteers. sa Ramesses II himself could send horses to the Hittite king (in Anatolia! ) on request, as did the king of l3abylon . Later on, after Solomon's day, Sargon [I boasts of the "twelve large horses" given him by Osorkon IV (Shilkanni), and he and other Assyrian kings prized also horses of Nubian origin. Thus the Nile Valley did become a breeding ground for horses from the sixteenth to the seventh century.59 Also (against Ash and Schipper), the price of 150 shekels for good-quality horses charged by Solomon fits exactly with the slowly falling price curve for such royal beasts at 300 shekels in the eighteenth century (Mari from Qatna), then down to 200 shekels in the thirteenth century (Ugarit), and so to 150 shekels under Solomon (tenth century) . Naturally, in horse-growing areas and places adjacent to them, and for cheaper hacks, etc., prices came much lower (at Nuzi and Ugarit and especially in Anatolia itself).9o No problem here! As for chariots, at 600 shekels from Egypt and retailed by Solomon to northern rulers (A rameans and [Nea l- Hittites), these are clearly richly adorned "Rolls- Royce" models for fellow kings, not simply lightweight runabouts of wood and leather. As Ikeda points out, the term mcrkaba used here and in certain other contexts relates to ceremonial chariots - the sort of vehicle, commonly gold plated, used by the Canaanite princes defeated by Tuthmosis III circa


1458 or retrieved from the tomb ofTutankhamun, circa 13)0, or mentioned in the Amarna letters just before his reign ."! No problem here, either.

(iv) The Arriva l of the Q ueen of Sheba

This famous and colorful episode has given rise to much romantic legend for centuries (even millennia), all the way down to Handel's famous music by this title and (from the sublime to the ridiculous!) to an archaeologically conditioned humorous presentation of her career. 92 But we must resolutely cast aside all this later verbiage, romance, and homage, and stay with the only truly ancient account that we have (I Kings 10:1 -1); 2 Chron. 9 :1-12). Our task is to evaluate the essentials of her case as there presented, be it realistic or mere romance, on the basis of external factual controls.

(a) Location
Whence did she come? Hebrew Sheba is universally admitted to be the same name as the place -name commonly transcribed "Saba" that denotes a commu nity and kingdom in ancient Yemen in southweST Arabia. It cannot be located in northwest Arabia for multiple reasons. Negatively, there is no mention whatsoever in the Old North Arabian and other sources we have for the ninth to second centuries B.C. of any kingdom of Saba up there then, and 110 Sabaean inscr iptions from that area either. Positively, we do have a series of other well attested kingdoms in northwest Arabia: Qedar, Dedan, Lihyan, with matching series of inscriptions; from the far south, it is the Mineans, not Sabaeans, who left inscriptions in the northwest. In the late eighth and early seventh centuries we have Assyrian mentions of ltamru (yitha'amar) and Karibilu ( Karibil) as kings of Saba, who belong to the line of Yemenite "paramount rulers" (mukarribs) in southwest Arabian Saba . Before that, Assyrian sources record Sabaean trade caravans explicitly for the later eighth and implicitly for the early ninth centuries, little more than half a century after Solomon. As they traveled freely north, so could she have done. 93

(b) The Get/der Issue

The astonishing thing about Solomon's south Arabian visitor was that it was a queen that came and not (as might be expected) a king, the ancient Near East


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being considerably male -oriented (as is still true today). But her precise status is not made clear in the very compact narrative that concerns her. Was she a sole ruler, a "queen regnant" in Saba, as many modern writers assume? There is no proof whatsoever that this is the case. On the basis of the "high" chronology that would identify the Assyrian Karibilu of 685 with the tllllkarrib Karibil Watar I, there are some twenty earlier rulers known; on an average of fifteen -totwenty years for most such reigns, male rulers roughly contemporary with Solomon might include the outgoing Yada'il Yanuf, a Dhamar'alay A, and his two successor sons, Yakrubmalik A and Yada'il13ayyin J. ln theory there is a break in the family line between Yada'il Yanuf and Dhamar'alay A; their present positions are stili theoretical. Hence one could intercalate the reign of a queen regnant here if further evidence should eventually require it, at about 970/960 in very round figures. However, there is no a priori reason why she could not have been the consort of a mukarrib, who sent her out as his personal executive emissary to sort out Solomon in diplomacy, for good reasons noted below. If north Arabian queens could play such roles, southern ones could also, particularly in earlier periods. Under Yit ha'ama r l3ayyin J (ca. 720, high date), women served alongside men, including as beaters at royal hunts.94 So, queens consort may not have mere ciphers either; we simply have no data yet, one way or the other. But the gender of our exotic personage does affect dating in another way. In north Arabia we have a series of executive queens, seemingly queens regnant, in the ninth and early seventh centuries, as Assyrian texts prove clearly.95 Opponents of Assyria from and in north Arabia included Z1.bibe (738), Samsi (733), lati'e (703) - and lastly Te'elkhunu in 691, who was associated with a King Haza'il in Qedar. The important fact to notice is that Te'elkhunu was the last of her kind in our uneven knowledge of ancient Arabian history. After 690, never again do we find any Arabian queen playing any active role whatsoever in history. In fact, from 690 B.C. all the way to A.D. 570, with one exception, we never even hear of any ancient southwest or northwest Arabian queens at all! (The lonely exception was in ca. A.D. 225, when the Sabaean princess Malikhalik [whom her father had married off to a king of Hadramaut l was hijacked back home by the next Sabaean king (her brother ]' displeased by her royal Hadrami husband's behavior.)96 Thus, in terms of old -fashioned OT scholarship, the queen of Sheba is "pre-Deuteronomic" (well before 621, the imaginary date for the first "publication" of Deu teronomy and its religious beliefs). There was no rational reason for inventing a story about a queen (rather than a king) visiting Solomon at any time after 650 at the latest (when any memory about Te'elkhunu and her kin would have long since evaporated). Our queen should belong to genuine historical tradition contained in the "Acts of Solomon," the daybooks from his "7


time (or works based on them), drawn upon by Kings (and perhaps Chronicles).

(e) Why Did She Come? A Question of Ophir and Wealth?

A cursory glance at I Kings 10 might suggest that the doughty queen made her long journey just to talk riddles with Solomon, and (touristically) to view his rumored splendors. The splendors heaped up within the narrow confines of Jerusalem (palace and temple) doubtless she might appreciate, and matters of mental stimulus be shared. But no head of state, ancient or modern, normally takes off on a long, hard journey just fo r tourism and a quiz hour or two. Then as now, other agendas were central to such visits. During the ninth and eighth centuries, as noticed above, merchant caravans traveled north from Sheba to reach Assyria to the northeast; from other considerations, also to Palestine and the Mediterranean world. Th is did not just begin in the 880s; fo r many centu ries Saba and its neighbors had enjoyed an irrigation -based ag ricultural civilization, without use of writing. But by about the thirteenth/twelfth centu ries the ancient Arabians suddenly found it essential to adopt an alphabet and sta rt writing. If agricu lture did not require it, something else did; international trade was seemingly t he stimulus . So, by Solomon's time, the Sabaeans had begun to develop their incense routes to the Leva nt and Mesopotamia, trading in both aromatics and other desirable goods. But then we read of Hiram and Solomon organ izing shipping expeditions from t he Gulf of Aqaba (from Ezion -Geber) down the Red Sea to Ophir (and beyond), which returned with gold, wood, and gems (1 Kings 9:26-28; 1O :1l-12). Where was this Ophir?97 Much debated, its location is now with good reason placed either west or east of the Red Sea. West would lead us to the gold deposits behind the Red Sea mountains of the Sudan, north of Port Sudan - the land of 'Amau with its "gold of "Amau" of the Egyptians.98 Eastward across the Red Sea would find us in western Arabia, in the area south from Medina (by Mahd adh-Dhahab) to the region of Wadi Baysh and northern Hawlan ("Havilah").99 The African option would no t affect Saba or its trade - but the west Arabian location would fall smack across Saba's direct land -based trade route! Besides aromatics, the queen brought gold; was it one of Saba's sources that Hiram and Solomon had tapped in western Arabia? And could they cut the incense route at will? Such hard questions the Sabaean confederation would certa inly need to resolve, to safeguard its vital interests. Significantly, even as exchanges of valuables (and doubtless opinions) were actually going on in Jerusalem, one of Hiram's fleets suddenly returned with gold and other valuables; the


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intercalation of verses 11 - 12 in the account of I Kings 10:1 -1} is no accident! The queen would realize that she could not stop her host and his ally. But one suspects tlwt a practic<ll solution W<lS <lrrived at. The S<lbae<lns would keep their overl<lnd trade in high-value lightweight goods (like aromatics) without interference from the Levant's "shipping li ne," while the two allies were free to import home bulky or heavy products (timber, gold) by ship. More the queen could not achieve, so she went home - a "one-off" phenomenon not repeated in Hebrew history. She (and her putative husband) need not have worried; the passing of both Hir<lm and Solomon soon brought <In end to their shipping line, whereas the camel-borne aromatics caravan trade was destined to last for well over another millennium, even when Greco-Roman shipping from Egypt to India came into being . She (and her successors) won in the end! The source of the different goods (silver, ivory) on "three-year" expeditions was well beyond a Red Sea Ophir, but cannot be located certainly at present. IOO Ophir itself is no myth. A Hebrew ostracon of perhaps the eighth century is clearly inscribed with the brief note of account: "Gold of Ophir for BethHoran - }o shekels."lol Ophir here is a real sou rce of gold, just as with "Gold of 'Amau," or "Gold of Punt" or "Gold of Kush" in Egyptian texts - gold in each case, either derived from the land named or from that land's type or qual it y. The queen's rich gifts are not quantified in detail, except for the gold : 120 talents (nearly four tons). Munificent though th is is, it is nei ther unparalleled nor even top-of-the-range . Thus Metten [I of Tyre paid 150 talents of gold (about four and a half tons) to Tiglat h -pileser [II in the eighth century.l02 As we al! know, money in the pocket tends to burn holes therein. Solomon spent very lavishly on his ambitious building program, even getting into debt (cf. under "Relations wit h Phoenic ia" above) . Eventually all Jerusalem's gold was taken off to Egypt, never to be seen <lgain (I Kings 14:26) . Fin<llly, it should be noted that long-haul mercantile commerce of the Hiram/Solomon v<lriety was, circa 950, far from either <l novelty or (at about 750 miles from Jerusalem to central west Arabia) unduly far -reaching in scope. Much more far-flung expeditions had been mounted as a m<ltter of course for the previolls 1,500 years along the Red Sea itself by Egypt to Punt,103 from at least the reign of Sahure (ca. 2500) down to that of Ramesses III (ca. 1170). From Memphis up the Nile to Koptos (just north of Thebes), then east through Wadi Hammamat to Red Sea harbors at either Quseir or Mersa Gweisis, expe d itions sailed south to the latitudes of Port Sudan and the Eritrean bo rder, and then penetrated inland to the aromatics and ebony terrain; this was a trip of 1,000 miles or more. Out east the third- and early second -millennium trade route from Meluhha (Indus civilization) via the Arabo -Persian Gulf to Magan (now United Arab Emirates and Oman), Dilmun (east Arabia plus Bahrain),


lind on to Mesopotllmill, up to Ur lind Akbd (somewhere near Babylon) WllS in its heydllY a run of 2,000 miles. Even just from Dilmun to Meluhha (to Lothal or Mohenjo Daro) was as many liS 1,500 miles. lo4 So a trade run of 750 miles over a thousand years later was enterprising but not exceptional, and certainly not fantasy.

(d) A LOllg, LOllg Road A-willdillg

Some commentators have found it hard to accept the distance involved for the queen's visit to Jerusalem, because it was "1,400 miles of rugged desert." Bu t they never do their homework, it seems. Here it is useful to set her travels in the context of other ancient royal journeys. Some thirteen centuries earlier Sargon of Akkad reputedly campaigned far northwestward into Anatolia to the "Silver Mountains," 900 miles or more from home. i05 New Kingdom pharaohs such as Tuthmosis I lind III and Amenophis III (fifteenth/fourteenth centuries) traveled south from Memphis to cllmpaign in Nubia up to the Nile's Fourth elltllract and beyond, 1,300 or 1,400 miles. Between Hattllsas (capital of the Hittite Empire) and Pi -Ramesses in Egypt was a journey of some 900 miles (1,000 miles, if to Memphis) that two Hittite princesses traveled in the th irteenth cen tury to marry Ramesses II (one-way t icket!), and likewise Prince Hishmisharruma (probably the future Tudkhalia IV of Hatt i) and Hattusillil himself, if the pharaoh ever did persuade him!l06 Later than Solomon, at the end of the eighth century, in 701, Prince Taharqa of Nubia (Kush) and Egypt brought an llrmy some 1,800 miles from Upper Nubill to Memphis, to go to Hezekiah's aid. 107 And later still (sixth century), Nabonidus king of Babylon removed himself 600 miles from Babylon southwestward to Teima in Arabia for a decade, adventuring then southward to other centers as far as Yathrib (Medina), up to 1,000 miles from home in Babylon. lo8 Assurbanipal and forces marched 2,700 miles each way, from Nineveh to Thebes. i09 Other such ventures by ancient royalty we can dispense with here. So the queen of Sheba was one more member of a considerable long-distance "royal travelers club," and not even the sole member of the women's section! In short, the queen of Sheba may be exotic, but she belongs firmly to this world, not some mere dreamworld.

(v) At Two Extremes: Tamar and Tadmor

Often our biblical writers are very concise, and we need all the data they (and others) can give, to see the overall picture. Thus in 1 Kings 9:17b-19 we find Sol''0

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omon (I) building in Lower Beth -Horon, Baalath, and Tamar in the desert "in his land" and (2) establishing store places near and far. But in 2 Chron. 8:3-5 a fuller view appears, with Solomon (I) building Tadmor in the desert and store places in Hamath, (2) (re)building in Upper and Lower l3eth-Horon, and l3aalath, and (3) building store places near and fa r. This was prefaced by (4) his capturing a place called Hamath -Zobah, after completion of his palace/temple building program (Year 24 and following). Item I in Kings is "southern," within Israell/udah and environs, and corresponds to Chronicles item 2 . Likewise, Kings item 2 and Chronicles item 3 correspond. But Chronicles item I is "northern," relating to the area east of AramZobah and Hamath to Tadmor (Palmyra). It links on (as a "related territory" notice) to the preceding note on Hamath -Zobah . The lat ter, a "Hamath of Zobah," was (by its name) a place (or zone) in Zobah that took its name from Hamath, and should therefore be located near the border between Zobah and Hamath. A suitable location would be near modern Homs (Roman Emesa), perhaps at Qadesh-on -Orontes or Qatna (only a few miles south/north, either side of Homs) . From this zone a well -known desert route ran (and runs) out east to the Tadmor/Pahnyra oasis, whence further tracks could reach the Middle Euphrates at such towns as (earlier) Mari or (later) Hindanll. The store places "in Hamath" would most likely be depots for lsraelite/ Hamathite trade, etc., along Hamath's eastern borderlands to the sOllthwest elbow of the Euphrates, and its fords beyond . Tadmor itself is attested already in the eighteenth century in the Mari correspondence, and then barely a century before Solomon during Tiglath-pileser l's struggles against the Arameans in t his region and beyond. IlO So much for the north; we now return south, to I Kings 9:17b-18, plus 2 Chron . 8:5. Here the l3et h- Horons were on a strategic route from the western Palestine plains via Gezer (north of Ajalon) via Gibeon up toward Jerusalem . !3aalath, however, lay down in the plains, beyond Ekron, perhaps at El -Mughar/ Maghar, representing a control point in northern Philistia. 11l Tamar "in his (Solomon's) land" may best be identified with t he junction of routes at 'Ain Husb, south-southwest of the Dead Sea, just east of the northern Negev.1l2 Here roads meet, from both the Dead Sea and Negev, and t hen a route runs south down the "Arabah Valley to the Gulf of Aqaba (Red Sea). This Tamar is attested also in postbiblical times and records, in the Tabula Pelltingeriana and on the Madaba mosaic map (confirm ing its posit ion), as Thamar. So, while it is possible to suggest reading either just Tamar or just Tadmor in both Kings and Chronicles, ll l it is probably wiser to observe a d istinction between these two locations in Kings and Chronicles.


(vi) Buildings
(aJ The Temple and Its Furnishings, Jerusalem
In I Kings 6 we are told that Solomon built a temple at Jerusalem 60 cubits long, 20 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high, being fronted by a portico 10 cubits deep (w. 23) So the whole was some 90 + 15 = 105 fee t long, by 30 feet wide by 45 feet high. Behind the portico the temple had a main hall or vestibule and an inner sanctuary. Around the sides and rear of the temple was a series of three-decker storerooms (linked by internal stairs), totaling 15 cubits (about 23 feet ) high, that left ample room for clerestory window slots along the main temple walls (cf. vv. 4-6, 8). The temple was roofed with beams and planking, and was likewise floored and the interior walls lined with wooden planks and panels. The interior (walls, floor) was then surfaced with gold overlay (W.9, 15-22,30). Twin door leaves closed the doorways into the main hall and inner sanctuary. These and the wall paneling bore engraved decoration (cherubs, palm trees, open flowers, gourds; vv. 18, 29). Within the inner sanctuary were placed two winged cherubs, wooden and also gilded (vv. 23-28). Around the temple was an inner courtyard of dressed stonework having a course of cedar beams at every third course (v. 36). Such are the reasonably clear essentials of the Jerusalem temple. Minor details are less clear and must remain topics of specialized debate, sllch as the details of the doorways (vv. 31, 33) and whether the portico contained a pair of columns, and whether these (if present) were in fact the two bronze pill:lrs of 7:15 -22. How f:lr does such a structure and its embellishment correspond to known ancient reality or arise from mere fantasy? This temple (if ever built) was replaced by a "second temple" in the late sixth century (537-520; Ezra 3:8f['; 6:15), and W:lS replaced under Herod from 19 B.C. onw:lrd (strictly a "third temple"!). Of the first, or Solomonic temple, no physical tr:lce has been conclusively recovered or identified. This is h:lrdly surprising, given (I ) the thorough destruction of /erus:llem's offici:ll buildings by the Babylonians in 586, (2) the reuse of the site in the Persi:ln period, :lnd then () the ITI:lssive redevelopment of the site and total rebuilding of both tlle temple and the surrounding precincts in Herod's time. Plus (4) Roman destruction and Byzantine and Muslim buildings since then, and (5) the practical impossibility of digging archaeologically in the present precinct. Fortunately the written descriptions in 1 Kings 6 can be confronted with what we currently know of temple design and embellishment from that world, if we would wish to test for fact or fantasy (or both). We have temples from all over the ancient Near East, from the fourt h millennium down to Greco- Roman times, so there is considerable (if uneven ) material available to compare with

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the Solo mon ic projection. First we t ake up size and layout. Even with its surrounding storage chambers, Solomon's tripartite temple (portico, hall, sanctuary) would not exceed some 115 feet in overall length or some 35 feet in overall width. From Syria and Palestine we have a long series of analogous structures. Temple D at north Syrian Ebla (ca . 1800) is almost 100 feet long by nearly 50 feet wide, and is tripartite: open portico (no columns), anteroom, hall with raised sanctuary niche.114 At Habuba Kabira, on the west bend of the Euphrates, probable remains of such a tripartite temple (portico, no columns, anteroom, long sanctuary hall) about 95 by 47 feet date to the early second millennium.ll ~ At Mari on the east Syrian Euphrates, the twentieth- to eighteenth -century rebuild of the temple of Dagan (115 by 33 feet) is seemingly tripartite, with portico (no columns), hall, and then twin sanctu3ries. 116 At Alalakh, by the north bend of the Orontes, the stratum VII temple (ca. eighteenth century; about 70 by 65 feet) has an enclosed portico (no colu mns), broad hall, and larger niched sanctuary.1l7 At Tell Munbaqa (ancient Ekalte), on the west bend of the Euphrates (opposite Aleppo), three fi fteenth-century temples were found, two with portico (no columns), anteroom, and long sanctuary, being about 80 by 42 feet and 95 by 50 feet respectively. I 18 At Hazor in Canaan, the final temple (area H, stratum IA) brings us to the thirteenth century. It had a portico room with two free standing columns (not supports), a central hall (with staircase block at left), and a large, niched sanctuary; its maximum dimensions were 36 by 23 feet. 1 19 This brings us to the early first millennium . At Ain Dara (some forty miles northwest of Aleppo) was found a fine tripartite tem ple of the period 1300-1000 (phase t) go ing on through 1000-900 (phase 2), having a two columned portico, an anteroom, and a main hall ending with a raised sanct uary area . The whole is about 98 by 65 feet. Finally (in phase 3) with in circa 900 -740, a corridor was added all around the sides and rear of the temple (cf. Solomon's storerooms), having internal buttresses that would enable its division into a series of storerooms. This addition expanded the temple's overall dimensions to almost 120 by 105 feet . This building spanned the entire epoch of early Israel, through the time of David and Solomon, into the divided monarchy period, and is architecturally closest of the series listed here to the Jerusalem temple of 1 Kings 6.l2 The use of storerooms around temple worship space (and on more than one level) is, however, attested long before the 900-740 period, it should be noted. In th ird-millennium Egypt, the pyramid temples of Sahure and Pepi II in particular had runs of storerooms surrounding their worship space, as did Sesostris I in the early second millennium. At Sahure we actually have two -level storerooms, li nked by staircases, very reminiscent of Solomon's three-level


storerooms (fig. 19). In the fifteenth century Tuthmosis III incorporated twolevel storerooms around the worship areas of the old Twelfth to Eighteenth Dynasty temple of Amun at Karnak. 121 Coming down to thirteenth-century Hattusas, the Hittite capital up north, only two hundred years before Solomon, one finds Temple I closely surrounded by extensive storage magazines on all sides (with a corridor area between these and the temple proper).I22 Remains of stairways indicate clearly that these storerooms also existed on at least two levels, if not more. Last on this detail, we may add that it was customary for storage space to outstrip worship space in ancient temples. In those days bank accounts, cash, and credit cards did not exist - their wealth had to be stored clumsily in kind: sacks of grain, vats of oil and wine, endless ingots and packages of gold, silver, precious stones and other commodities, timbers, etc. The idea once mooted that Solomon's temple had begun life as a treasury and was only later converted to a worship site is (in these circumstances) a total nonstarter. Finally, our last two temples. The first is the temple at Hamath. In level E of the ninth century (and possibly the tenth) is to be found this tripartite shrine (enclosed portico, no columns, hall, rear sanctuary) of about 60 by 40 feet, close to the royal palace. At Tell Tayinat we have a tripartite shrine of about the eighth century with columned portico, hall, and inner sanctuary, some 80 by 40 feet in size, next to a palace. l30th of these have clear similarities to Solomon's temple, especially the latter.123 The inner courtyard of Solomon's temple was built of "three courses of dressed stone and one course of trimmed cedar beams" (I Kings 6:)6). To understand this it is essential to turn to the practical Near Eastern ev idence of real walls. The system of building walls with stone base-courses, topped by timber beams (at times with cross-framing) and then by higher courses in brick or stone, was endemic to the eastern Mediterranean world during the second and first millennia in particular, in the Aegean, and in Anatolia, Syria, and Palestine. Its purpose was to give strength and flexibility against earthquake shocks. l24 For examples (late second millennium) one may look at the stepped walls of the great Building E in the Hittite citadel at Hattllsas (Boghaz-koi), where thrice over a layer of beams once existed above every third course of stonework;12~ also in the foundation levels at nearby Yazilikaya temple, and in massive Hittite masonry walls at Kiiltepe. In Syria, at Ugarit, one of the city's grand houses has the clearest possible example of three courses of fine masonry topped by the space left by destroyed beams, with further masonry and rubble above it. This technique (as in 1 Kings 6:)6) was used in the palace of the kings of Ugarit and other buildings there. 126 Returning now to the interior of Solomon's temple, there are the ques-

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tions about wood interior paneling and gold or gilt overlay of walls and floors . The practice of wood -paneling the inner walls of royal and important buildings goes back almost two thousand years before Solomon . It first occurs at Abydos and Saqqara in the great tombs of Egypt's Archaic Period (ca.3000-2700), when First Dynasty pharaohs and their highest elite had solid wooden floors laid in their burial chambers and the walls lined with wood paneling - sometimes decorated with gold strips - and roofed with solid timber.127 Then in midthird-millennium Ebla (ca. 2500), we find apartments in Palace G, where a high bench (and probably the walls above?) and walls elsewhere were faced with fine relief scenes engraved on wooden paneling: dignitaries, lions attacking game and a bull, king and warriors. us Then in late -second-millennium Hattusas, in the great Temple I, constructional features suggest that its rooms had wooden wall paneling above pierced stone bases. 129 [n the early first millennium, contemporary overall with the Hebrew united and early divided monarchies, Carchemish and Zinjirli showed analogous evidence. At Carchemish the Processional Entry had had ornamental cedarwood paneling upon base beams along stone orthostats. At Zinjirli walls were clothed rather differently in tiers of beams held in place by vertical wooden pilasters .!)O In ninth-century Assyria, areas of a major palace could be defined by the type of wood used in the rooms - the boxwood, cedar, cypress, terebinth, tamarisk suites, so to speak. As such palaces were structurally of brick, this could only refer to wood paneling and furnishings .lJl Finally, in the eighth-century palace at Tell Tayinat in north Syria, wooden wall-facing backed by brick was also found to have existed.132 Thus, wood-paneling has a very long history in tombs, palaces, temples, etc., in the ancient Near East . Finally, the gold plating and gold leafing of major buildings. We have not iced gold strips in the tombs of Egypt's leaders circa 3000, just above. Many centuries later, in the later second millennium, the pharaohs went much further, speaking of lavishing sheet gold and elect rum (gold/silver alloy) on temple walls, columns, obelisks, doorways, etc., and silver on floors.ln So, for example, Amenophis HI, in his memorial temple in Western Thebes, his pylon at Karnak, his temple at Luxor (all in Thebes), and his Nubian temple f"r south at Soleb. Examination of slots tor fitting metal sheathing to still -standing columns, etc., indicates that these are no idle boasts.o4 Nor were the kings of Assyria and Babylon any less generous to the temples of their gods; Esarhaddon and Nabonidus alike "shellthed the walls with gold as if plaster" or "clad its walls with gold and silver." In between these two, Nebuchadrezzar II, not to be outdone, claims in a recently published text: "[n Esagila,. . the awe-inspiring sanctuary ... of Marduk ( ... etc.) [ dad in shining gold .... Ezida, ... house of Nabu, I . .. beautified with gold and precious stones .. . ; great cedllr beams, I


clad in gold."1l5 Finally, while virtually all this wealth has been stripped away millennia ago, some traces do sometimes survive to prove the poi nt. In work at Qantir, the site of Ramesses JI's great Delta capital of Pi-Ramesse (Raamses of Exod . 1:11), remains of a palace floor of that king have been recovered, with gold leaf trodden into its surface, as mere waste from gilding work being done there on royal furnishings.JJ6 "Gold is in your land like dust!" a pharaoh was once told by another king. So it is not all fairy tales or simply royal boasting. 5010man leafing his temple walls and floor with gold is ~ in this context - merely what kings then customarily did. To sum up, on structure. In terms of size and scale, Solomon's temple at 90/105 feet by 30 feet (plus side rooms) stands within a long-established range of size for temples of its type during the third to first millennia, from Temple D at Ebla (third millennium) at 100 by 50 feet, the temple of Dagan at Mari (early second millennium) at 115 bY30 feet, and t hat at Ain Dara in Syria (ca. 1000) at 98 by 65 feet plus side rooms, down to ninth- and eighth-century Hamath and Tell Tayinat at some 60 by 40 and 80 by 40 feet respectively, to cite just a few from the data given above. In terms of layout, the triple format of portico (with or without columns), anteroom/hall, and hall/sanctuary is likewise a regular and popular design from the third to firs t millennia. And, as Solomon's temple adjoined his palace in Jerusalem's acropolis, so several of our other examples do likewise in their contexts (e.g., Ebla Temple D, Alalakh Vll, Hamath, Tell Tayinat). The use of three-layered stone masonry topped (or alternating) with cedar beams is also widespread in the second millennium and later. Internally, the practice of wood paneling dates from the early third millennium onward, and the lavish use of gold overlay on internal walls, roofing, and floors is well attested in the royal inscriptions of both Egypt and Mesopotamia (second-first millennia); and gold flooring even happened accidentally (from working practices), so to speak, in the East Delta palace of Ramesses II in the thirteenth century. Therefore Solomon's works here are not fantasy but belong within a widespread and solid framework of actual, long-lived ancient practice. On fllmishillgs, we must be brief for the present. TIle famous bronze columns Jachin and Boaz that stood before Solomon's temple (I Kings 7:15-22) have been much discussed. Independent standing columns do occur in other Near Eastern temples, such as that in Hazar area H, of the late thirteenth century, in the portico of which once stood two architecturally nonfunctional columns. I37 The great "sea" (I Kings T23 - 26) or priestly ablution tank was seemingly a large bronze cylinder, about twice as wide as deep, resting on four sets of three bronze bulls each. It was successor to the bronze vessel of identical function at the tabernacle (Exod. 30:17-21; 38:8).138 Such basins or tanks of one kind or an other were an essential adjunct to ancient Near Eastern ritual at all periods. In

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later second-millennium temple scenes of the Egyptian pharaoh worsh iping t he gods in the sanctuary, T-shaped tanks lire lit times shown in plan view.139 At t hirteenth -century Ugarit in north Syria, between the temples of Baal and Dagon, the house of the high priest contained a cache of metalwork that included a fine bronze min iature tripod stand designed to hold a basin, and hung with model pomegranates reminiscent of those around the capitals of the JlIchin lind BollZ columns before Solomon's temple (I Kings 7:20).14Q Back in Canaan, the "ecumenical" chapel at Kuntillet Ajrud (ca . 800) boasted a fine inscribed stone basin, while the sixth-century chapels at Horvat Kitmit had an altar and stone basin; precisely this combination is indicated on the Mesha stone (ca. 835), line 12, where one should render "the altar-hearth (of) its vessel" (dwd_h).141 Alongside the "sea," Solomon's temple boasted ten movable stands with ablution bowls. A smaller example of exactly such bronze, wheeled trolleys has long been known from twelfth/eleventh -century Cyprus, and now we have also from Philist ia three wheels and a bracket from a similar stand of the eleventh century at Ekron (Tel Miqne, V), in use on David and Solomon's doorstep, so to speak.'42 Alongside these WllS a miscellllny of lesser cultic implements (liS at the tabernllcle, earlier): shovels, bowls, lind the like. Such items are known from excavlltions in Palestine, in various plllces and periods, including Megiddo, Gezer, and Dan;14J and great cauldrons on stands were seized in the Musasir temple in Urllrtu by Sargon [[.144 Thus, in furnishings likewise, Solomon worked within the context of his world .

(b) The Palace Complex, Jerusalem

In 1 Kings 7:1-12 we have a much briefe r account of the palace building that Solomon undertook (thirteen years, probably in Years 11 -24). However, there is enough relevant background material to shed some light on this elusive group of buildings. The temple stood within an "inner court(yard)" of ashlar/cedar (6:36), while we also read (7:9) of a "great court(yard)" in relation to the palace buildings. This would make good sense if, in fact, the inner court and temple were within a larger enclosure ("great court") mainly devoted to the palace buildings. The temple was only one main edifice, built in seven years; bu t the palace complex included five main st ructures tha t took thirteen years to build, nearly twice as long as the temple. So, if the inner sanctuary of the temple did coincide with the stone knoll in the Dome of the Rock, the location of the palace within a larger enclosure might fall either directly south of the temple's inner court, between it and the O phel/City of David, or else to the temple court's


north on the raised area overlapped by the northernmost part of the presen t (Herodian) Temple Mount . In terms of st rategic compactness for defense, the southern solution would still seem preferable; either is architecturally feasible on the data used here. 145 For the entire complex, cf. fig. 2l. As the "Forest of Lebanon" hall was clearly the largest and most remarkable single edifice in the palace complex, the writer in 1 Kings gave it first place in his summary, with more detail than the other bu ildings. A careful reading of the Hebrew text would appear to show us a hall 100 cubits long and 50 ClLbits wide (Le., its width = half its length), with four rows of columns bearing architraves. If so, four columns spaced across 50 cubits should imply double that figure (eight columns) along the loo-cubit length of the ha ll, thirty -two all told . This would give three aisles down the hall, between three (double) doors at either end. Across the architraves, fifteen sets of three beams (two, wall to inner aisle; one, spanning central aisle) roofed the whole. If the four columns at either end were in fact pilasters against the end walls (leaving twenty-four freestanding columns), then the fifteen rows of transverse beams would correspond to the cross-rows of four columns and their intervening cross-spaces, totaling fifteen altogether. Sets of triple window apertures in threes would face each other, high up in the long walls of the hall. Later (1 Kings 10:16 -17) we are told that Solomon placed 200 large and 300 small gold shields in this hall (see below). Large pillared halls are well attested in ancient Near Eastern palaces in the late second millennium, and in the early first millennium also. In the fourteenth century Egypt's sun-worshiping pharaoh, Akhenaten, built a vast official palace at his new capital Akhet -Aten (now Tell el-Amarna). At its south end stood a huge hall (about 380 feet by 240 feet) of 527 pillars (17 x 31) with six lesser-pillared halls on its north and south sides . This palace (fig. 20C) contained a variety of other columned ha!ls of much less size, including one (about 50 x 30 feet) of four rows of columns and three aisles (with matching exits at either end) very similar to Solomon's "Forest of Lebanon" hall. 146 Far to the north during the fourteenth/thirteenth centuries, the Hittite "Great Kings" reigned enthroned in a splendid pillared hal l (about 100 feet square), with 25 (5 x 5) wooden pillars and architraves very reminiscent of what would have stood in Solomon's hall (fig. 200). Descending to the ninth century (just after Solomon), the great Phoenician temple at Kition (phase "Floor 3") in Cyprus boasted a hall (about 80 x 65 feet) with four rows of seven pillars (total, twenty-eight), giving three aisles to three doorways into the sanctuary, all very close in general design to Solomon's hall. Thereafter in the eighth/seventh centuries (phase "Floor 2a"), the plan was dearly changed : only two rows of pillars leading to only one doorway.147 Very much farther to the northeast, at


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Altintepe (northeast Anatolia), a Urartian royal citadel (eighth/seventh centur ies) included a destroyed hall of about 150 by 94 feet (comparable in scale to Solomon's hall) having bases for three rows of large columns, no other detail being preserved. 143 All these halls in t.he first millennium appear to have arisen through Phoenician influence. Earlier and vaster than Solomon was Mari (fig. 20A). As noted above, the hall was reportedly adorned with gold sh ields ( I Kings 10:16 - 17) .149 This report is not based on fantasy, as some have assumed . Again in Urartu, we have pertinent evidence to the contrary. When Sargon IJ conquered Musasir in 714, he looted the local temple of the god Haldi, removing "6 gold shields, hung right and left of his shrine" with other gold work. And the relief scenes in his palace at Khors:abad show the temple being looted. On its walls (and pillars?) are two sets of shields: large ones hung in twos above each other, and small ones in t hrees. This illustrates clearly what Solomon is said to have done. In fact, if we were to assume a similar arrangement, his 200 large shields might once have hung in 100 vertical pa irs, 96 of these on each of the four sides of the twenty-four freestanding pillars, and the other 4 pairs at 2 pairs each flanking the central doors at either end of the building. The 300 smaller shields in 100 vertical groups of 3 each (also as at Musasir) may have been distributed in 50 groups each along the two long interior sides of the hall. A striking Sight. Gold shields have (so far) not survived from antiquity, from Jerusalem, Musasir, or anywhere else, but decorated bronze ones (of about 75-85 centimeters in diameter) are well known, from various sites, such as Nimrud in Assyria, Carchemish in north Syria, and Urartian Toprak Kale in eastern Anatolia . Greek tradition also knows of gold and gilt shields t hat once adorned the temple of Zeus at O lympia . So Solomon's act of decorating his hall with gold shields belongs in t he world of known real ities, not fan tasy. Much less is said of the other buildings, but enough to gain some idea of their nature; they may be named in sequence, as some suggest. The pillared portico (Heb. 'ulalll) with its roofed pillared portico (aga in, "ulalll) would probably have been the main entrance to the "great" (or outer) court. A porch to a porch does not make overmuch sense. Likewise, we have a "porch" of throne and judgment, and the pharaoh's daughter's house was "like this porch" (I Kings 7:7-8; "u/am in each case). C learly we have two senses here: (I) a real portico or porch, commonly with pillars/columns in its facade, as with Solomon's temple, and in the (real) porch to the so-called (ent ry) porch; (2) a form of building fronted by a porch (plus or minus pillars/columns), which would here include the throne/judgment hall and the pharaoh's daughter's abode, if not the king's house too. As has been frequently pointed out, in Syrian local capital cities of the early first millennium, ant' may find compact "palace build-



ings" of a particular type, having a stairway entrance through a pillared/ columned portico into a public or throne hall, with other apartments behind; this type has been equated with the hi/ani buildings of Hittite and Assyrian texts, and goes back into the second millennium. So, what we may have here is the following suite of buildings. First, a columned hall fronted by a columned portico, leading into the great court from the east end of the south wall (if complex is south of the temple court), or from the south end of the east wall (i f complex is north of the temple court). Second, northwest of it would be the "Forest of Lebanon" Hall, discussed above. Third, farther to the west in this part of the great court would be the throne/judgment hall, with porticoed entrance, throne hall, and apartments behind ("'H ilani I"). Fourth, behind this (again going west) was the king's house, "the other court, from the house to the porch, was like this work," i.e., like the hall of judgment. So the king's house was "Hilani II," in another court, behind the area on which the judgment/thronehall fronted. Finally, fifth, the house for the pharaoh's daughter was another porticoed building, "Hilani III," and probably in this same rear court, just south of the king's house. We thus end up with a close group of buildings, in part linked together, in east and west sections of the "great court," the whole complex extending parallel to the temple in its inner court, whether along its south or north. l50 Such complexes of loosely attached buildings are exactly what we find in the second and early first millennia (figs. 20B, D). One need only look at the plan of the great Hittite royal citadel at Hattusas (Boghaz -koi), with its line of buildings along the northwest side of the Upper Court, facing large but now destroyed structures on the southeast side, above and linked with the set of buildings around the Lower Court.l~1 In the ninth/eighth century, at Zinjirli (ancient Sam 'al), the plan of the citadel has an outer court between the outer and inner gates, with service rooms or barracks along the east wall, then the old "Hilani]." Across at the west side, Hilanis "]]" and "HI" face each other and are linked by a broad court with its surrounding chambers and adjuncts (fig. 20E). And in the north corner we find two more conjoined Hilanis ("IV/v") of kings Kilamuwa and Bar-rakkub, with adjoining service bui ldings. ls2 The siting close together of both temple and palace (as with Solomon at Jerusalem) is found at both Tell Tayinat and Hamath in north Syria (first millennium), as well as at Alalakh (second millennium), and long before at Ebla (third millennium, Tem ple 0).153 Thus Solomon's pa lace complex. makes good sense as a royal architectural complex in its time, styles, and space, and proximity to the main temple of the city. We may fit ly finish this "palatial" section with a glance at Solomon's gold mounted throne and gold table service ( 1 Kings 10:18 -21). Again, thrones overlaid with gold and inlaid with ivory are beyond the reach and tastes of most of

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us moderns. But the ancient kings thought otherwise. To them, these were sim ply bagatelles that went with the job. Just aile gold/ivory throne? Really! Solomon, you must do better than that. lf we care to consult the Amarna letters of t he fourteen th century, we find Pharaoh Amenophis III quite casually sending off to Kadashman -Enlil I of Babylon a few furnishings for the new wing of his palace: one ebony bed overlaid with ivory and gold, and two just with gold; and no less than ten chairs (or thrones) of ebony overlaid with gold, one being large; and to match them, a whole series of footstools of either ebony (ten) or ivory (quantity lost), overlaid with gold. 154 So much for just one ivory/gold throne! If Solomon is fantasy, what shall we say of Amenophis Ill? One may end this discussion on thrones, footstools, and beds by referring the reader to actual examples of all three categories (lav ishly gold -plated) from the tomb of Tutankhamun, only a generation after Amenoph is 111.155 As for gold table service, one need look no further than the astonish ing golden treasure of vessels and jewelry found in the burials of Assyrian queens of the ninth -eighth centuries. 156 With them, too, silver seems to have been of little account (cf. 1 Kings 10:1\) . Silver and gold vessels from the burial of Psusennes I of Egypt (1040/ 1039--992/99 1) are contemporary with David's first decade of rule. 157

(vii ) Solomon's Works Elsewhe re

Solomon's other reported building projects are merely summarized (1 Kings 9:15, 17-19; cf. 2 ehron . 8:1-6) . [n Jerusalem these included the not overclear "Millo," or "fill," possibly stone terracing, as well as part of the walls. Outside Jerusalem he built at three important centers: Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer - but we are not told precisely what he did there. Finally, there is a general summary, on the Beth-Horon(s), Baalath, Ta(d)mor, etc. (d already, pp. 120-21 above). Archaeology may be able to tell us so mething supplementary, at least in jerusalem, Hazar, Megiddo, and Gezer. But for this factor, see below under section 3, "Syro-Palest inian Archaeology and the United Monarchy." It is clear that after his fourth year, Solomon's "twenty years" (I Kings 9:10) of intensive work on the temple and palace complex probably left relatively little scope for any other major works elsewhere within that period (Years 4- 24) other than on the Millo and wall at jerusalem. 158 The provincial centers may have had more attention only in the second half of the reign, and on a limited scale, mainly from Year 24 onward. Even in Jerusalem the Millo was built after Pharaoh's daughter was installed in her new abode (9:24), so the more outlying sites are hardly li kely to have taken precedence over these more central royal concerns. At about the time of the build ing of the Jerusalem wall and



Millo, probably from Year 24 onward, was when young jeroboam son of Nebat fell under Solomon's suspicions, and so fled to Egypt - to "Shishak" (1l:40), none other than Shoshenq I, who ruled there from circa 945 onward. Solomon's twenty~fourth year was about 947 or 946, so jeroboam's flight was at earliest a couple years or so later, when the last Jer usalem projects were already well in hand. The collapse of foreign sections of the mini -empire (Edam, Aram, etc.), and the consequent loss of foreign revenues, in the last decade or so of Solomon's reign (d. 11:14-25), would not be favorable financially to ongoing major building works during that time.

(viii) Adm inistration

In territorial terms, 1 Kings 4:7-19 lists the twelve non-Judean districts in the Hebrew homeland. and their governors, who had annually to provide specific revenues to maintain Solomon's palace household, his chief officials, and doubtless the large ancillary staff that served them all. The revenues themselves are noted concisely in verses 22-25. The system of twelve district governorates has been usefully stud ied by a series of scholars, and it is fairly generaJ!y recognized that the list best fits this overall period, i.e., of David and Solomon . l~9 To debate at length its geography, etc., is needless here. Instead, a minor example of its background must suffice. The Second District (4:9) occupied a compact area from Beth-Shemesh inland out to Joppa on the coast, being bordered by Philistia on its southwest and by Ephraim and coastal Hepher on its northeast and north. It included Timnah, Gezer, Lod, etc., besides Beth-Shemesh and other lesser places listed by I Kings. One of these is Elon-Beth-Hanan, or "Elon of the House of Hanan ." We have independent archaeological evidence of the long association of the family or "house" of Hanan with this area. Long ago there was found at Beth-Shemesh an ostracon inscribed in late Canaanite, of the thirteenth or twelfth century, that included a Hanan in what may be a list of men and commodities (jars of wine) received or paid by them. l60 More recently there was discovered a broken stone gaming board, with the name Hanan inscribed on its edge in Hebrew script of the tenth century.161 From nearby Timnah comes a pottery fragment on whose margin was engraved the epigraph " [belonging to B]en _Hanan."162 The persistence ofthe name in this restricted distric t may be more than coincidence, and may point to a well -established local ruling family now attested for almost 200 years there. So a place in our list ( Elan) named from this family would strike an authentic note. Moving on 10 court revenues (4:22- 25), Solomon's 30 plus 60 kaT of fine


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flour and (ordinary) meal represents about 6,600 plus 13,200 = 19,800 liters daily, orsome 594,000 liters per month. This can be broken down (daily) at 600 liters of meal for Solomon's actual household, 6,000 for his high officials, and 13,200 for the palace employees. If a liter offlollr approximated a liter of grain, and if Israelite crop yields resembled others in the Near East (e.g., at Mari), the month's needs would be met from about 424 acres of field, or 1.7 square kilometers. The whole year's need would thus require about 13 square kilometers or barely 5 square miles of land - not a vast imposition on even the smallest dist ricts. But in his provision for his palace household, government, and support staff, Solomon was not alone. We also have stat istics and the use of daily and monthly accounts from and in other ancient Near Eastern palaces, particularly from the third and second millennia . At Ebla (third millennium), the monthly grain ration for the king's house averaged between 80,000 and lIO,OOO liters. At Mari (early second millennium), for "the king's repast," his immediate household and entourage, typical figures vary between about 60 and 75 hectoliters per month (6,000 to 7,500 liters) as against Solomon's probable household figure of 18,000 liters. At Chagar Bnar, contemporary with Mari, the accounts ran to 945 liters daily, or about 28,000 liters per month. In Egypt, about this period, the Thirteenth Dynasty court had 2,000 loaves per day, or some 60,000 a month . Later, in the early thirteenth century, we have monthly palace accounts of Sethos I from Memph is, with between three and six grain deliveries monthly, of (on average) 180 sacks representing (on average value of a sack) about 15,000 liters a time. Thus, at three to six del iveries, the palace received between 45,000 and 90,000 liters per month, on a median reckoning. In the later thirteenth century we have record of preparations for a pharaoh's arrival, for which an im mense range of foodstuffs was to be ordered, including 9,200 loaves (of eight kinds) and 20,000 biscu its; no mean welcome party. In contemporary Ugarit, monthly accounts were also kept, wit h supplies from various sources; the annual grain income for the palace ran to some 4,700 kur of grain, about 1,175,000 liters, at about 98,000 liters monthly. In the first millennium, suffice it to cite for Assyrian royal hospitality the "city-warming" celebration held by Assurnasirpal II at his new city of Calah, for 69,574 guests for ten days.16J So Solo mon's accounts fit well enough into their overall cultural context. Finally under material things, we return to Solomon's wealth. l64 It is said that he was twice given 120 talents of gold, by Hiram ofTyre and the queen of Sheba respectively, and that another 666 gold talents acc rued to him yearly (I Kings 9:14; 10:10, 14). Such figures have very often been dismissed as fantasy; but it is wiser to check on their background before jumping to premature conclusions. First, 120 talents is not unusual. We learn from firsthand sources that Metten II of Tyre (ca . 730) paid a tr ibute of 150 talents of gold to our old ac-


quaintance Tiglath -pileser !II of Assyria, while in turn his successor Sargon II (727-705) bestowed 154 talents of gold upon the Babylonian gods - about 6 tons in each case. Going back almost eight centuries, Tuthmosis !II of Egypt presented about 13.5 tons (well over 200 talents) of gold in nuggets and rings to the god Amun in Thebes, plus an unknown amount more in a splendid array of gold vessels and cult implements. Worth almost a third of Solomon's reputed annual gold revenue, this was on just one occasion, to just one temple. But there is worse. In Egypt Shishak's successor Osorkon I gifted some 383 tOilS of gold and silver to the gods and temples of Egypt in the first four years of his reign, many of the detailed amounts being listed in a long inscription (now damaged) (figs. 22A, B). That sum would (in weight) be equivalent to almost seventeen years of Solomon's annual gold revenue, and perhaps to ten years of it in gold value (not to mention such "minor" items as gold shields, etc.). So, much of Osorkon I's lavish generosity within Egypt may have derived from the spoils of his father's campaign to Judah and Israel in Rehoboam's time. No other pharaonic text remotely approaches this scale of expenditu re of precious metal. Furthermore, if (for argument's sake) we assume that in thirty years (omitting his first five and last five years) Solomon had retained some 500 talents annually of his 666, remembering he had outgoings in gold also, then his total hoard for thirty years might have been about 30 x 500 = 15,000 talents at the most, or abollt 500 tons all told. This sum is, frankly, modest when compared with the 1,180 tons of gold that Alexander the Great took from Susa, and the breathtaking 7,000 tons of gold that he abstracted from the vanquished Persian Empire overall. Solomon was simply not in the sa me league! And is hardly just fantasy in such a context.

(ix) Cultural Aspects

Leaving the material world behind for a moment, Solomon was also associated with wisdom, as an exuberant passage in 1 Kings 4:29-34 proclaims. For us the sale possible evidence remaining would be two compositions within the pres- 24, as an independent book, attribent Hebrew book of Proverbs: chapters 1 uted to him (alive), and 25-29, a posthumous collection of Solo monic lore from Hezekiah's scribes. Chapters 30 and 31 relate to other writers entirely, Agur and Lemuel (or rather, his mother) respectively. Over the decades opinion has varied considerably over how far ( if at all) either Provo 1 - 24 or 25- 29 have any connection with Solomon, and if so, what; it has often been thought that 1 - 9 was prefaced to 10- 24 at a relatively late date. And as long as scholars insist on trea ting the whole matter in isolation, sealed off from all the pertinent evidence,

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nothing more can be said, objectively. Progress must come (and already has come) from the adduction of external evidence, which supplies independent and objective criteria by which to judge the question . We have, in fact, some forty works of instructional "wisdom" - to which class the four books in Proverbs belong - from the ancient Near East, half of these deriving from Egypt, and all closely dated from the third to first millennia . These enable us to establish an outline history of this entire genre of writings, and to eliminate most of the guesswork where Proverbs is con cerned. 165 The essence of that history is as follows. In the third millennium such works first appear in Egypt and Mesopotamia (Sumer). They in every case beartitles naming the real or traditional author in the third person. These works divide into two series: those with prologues, and those without, which proceed directly into the main text. This applies already in the third millennium, and thereafter to the end. At this early date Hardjedef in Egypt has no prologue; where preserved, the rest have (Ptahhotep in Egypt; Old Sumerian Shuruppak in SUlner). In the early second millennium, no prologue is included in Merikare and "Ancient Writings" in Egypt, or with Shube-awil im in Mesopotamia; but prologues are included by Khety son of Duauf, "Sehetepibre"; by Man to his son and Amenemhat I in Egypt; and in the classical Sumerian and Akkadian versions of Shuruppak in Mesopotamia. In the later second millennium, no prologues occur with the five "educational" works, Hori and Amenemope's Onomasticon in Egypt, or with Hittite Shubeawilim in Hatti, but th ey are included by the high priest Amenemhat, Amennakht, Aniy, and Amenemope in Egypt, and Counsels of Wisdom in Babylonia . In the first millennium no prologues occur with P. Louvre D.2414 or Amenothes in Egypt or with Solomon II (Prov. 25-29), Agur, and Lemuel ( Hebrew Bible). But prologues occur in the Saite Instruction and Ankhsheshonqy in Egypt, and with Solomon I (Prov. 1- 24, Hebrew Bible) and Ahiqar (Aramaic, Mesopotamia). The total evidence of all these works shows as clear fact that short prologues dominate in the third and second millennia, and long ones in the first. With the sole exception of Ptahhotep, all prologues are exhortative or state an aim in the third and second millennia, while they move over to being long, and biographical (as Ptahhotep earlier was), in the first. Parallelism is the dominant poetical form (especially in couplets) during the third and second millennia, but much less so in this class of texts in the first millennium when one-line epigrams and miniature essays increasingly replace parallelism. Such are the facts, which cannot be gainsaid, attested solidly by the entire corpus of firsthand material. To this all of us must bow, regardless of prejudice or prior agenda. Where does this fixed framework leave Solomon? Solomon I


(Prov. 1- 24) is type B (with prologue). This work is clearly transitional, as it has a traditional exhortative prologue (as in third- and second -millennium texts), which is relatively long (as in first -millennium texts). He uses parallelism (especially two-line couplets) mainly throughout, which is again traditional for the third, second, and early first millennia. Hence, for these and other such reasons, he belongs squarely at the hinge between the third/second millennia and the first at about 1000, which is close to Solomon's historical date in any case. One may add that nobody ever added prologues to any of these works at some later date, as has often been suggested for Provo 1- 9 in relation to 10- 24. Any such procedure is excluded absolutely by the entire corpus of evidence, and not a single valid indicator exists to oppose this. As for Solomon II ( Prov. 25- 29), Hezekiah's time (late eighth/early seventh century) is late enough. By the sixth century use of parallelism is beginning to wane, and drastically so, later, in instructional wisdom works. So the headings at Provo 1:1 and 2j:l must be taken seriously for strictly factual reasons. Agur and Lemuel are otherwise entirely unknown to us, but the seventh century or onward is late enough, given their total addiction to parallelism as in older works. Cf. fig . 23.

(x) Clos ing Note

Much more could be said on the Kings/Chronicles data for Solomon's reign, but the foregoing survey is symptomatic for the whole. Where set against the proper contexts, the accounts of Solomon's reign come out reflecting fact and certa inly not fantasy. Even 666 talents of gold (twenty-two tons) is poverty compared with the 383 tons of precious metal used by Osorkon I ( in 924-921) and the 7,000 tons removed from the Persian Empire's coffers by Alexander the Great (cf. p. 134 above). From time to time the writer of 1 Kings indulges in a whiff of rhetoric - but rhetoric must be compared only with rhetoric, and facts with facts, and the two categories must not be confused. Thus 1 Kings 4:20, 29 has the Hebrew population growing "as the sand of the seashore," and Solomon's range of understanding also as wide "as the sand of the seashore," which is rhetorical, not literal, precisely as with Ramesses III (ca. 1153) describing his conquest of the Sea Peoples (who included the Philistines): "captured all together, brought as booty to Egypt, like the sand of the seashore."I66 Being greater than all lands, having presents from all lands (cf. 1 Kings 4:30-31, 34; 10:23 -25) is typical of the rhetorical style of his world ( not ours), as other kings' texts often show. Such as Ramesses II, "who seizes all lands valiantly, whose victories distant foreign lands remember (i n dread of him) ... forever," or (e.g.) Assyrian kings who regularly entitle themselves "King of all people, King of

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(the world's) four quarters" (Shalmaneser I JI) or" King of the Universe" (Adadnirari III), and suchlike immodesties .167 Such rhetoric should not be confused with genuine fantasy; if Solomon had been credited (e.g.) with 666 million talents of gold, or an empire from the Aegean to the Indus and Anatolia to Arabia, etc., then from our fuller comparative knowledge fantasy would indeed have been the appropriate verdict. But that is very clearly not the case.


In most books in this field, until very recent times, will be found accounts of site levels, buildings, etc., attributed to the general epoch of David and Solomon .l68 But in the last few years this matter has become enveloped in con troversy. Therefore we must consider the question concisely, to determine whether fresh views proposed on archaeological chronology are indeed valid or whether this is in fact just another storm in a teacup.

(i) The Genera l Picture, "As Was"

The late th irteenth and early twelfth centuries witnessed big changes in t he ancient Near East. The Aegean world saw changes, as the Mycenaean regimes ceased to ru le effectively in Greece and Crete, and Cyprus was invaded by newcomers, leading to a Hittite reaction and sea battle. In the north, the Hittite Empire itself broke up, as its central kingdom in AnatoHa (Hatti proper) came to an end; rebels around it and newcomers (early Phrygians) destroyed such centers as the capital, Hattusas (now Boghaz-k6i). The Egyptian sources indicate movements of warrior groups and their families from somewhere north to attack Egypt, as a place for settlement. The first wave came over the Med iterra nean into ancient Libya under Merenptah (ca. 1213 -123), who repulsed the Libyans and all ied "peoples of the sea" (his term!) in his fifth year, 1209/1208. 169 The second wave came round the coasts of the Levant, via north Syria (Qode, Carchemish), then down by central Syria (Amurru) into Djahi (PhoeniciaPalestine) to the East Delta borders o f Egypt, there to be defeated in his eighth year by Ramesses III, in circa 1180 or 1177 (depending on whether the ephemeral


King Amenmesses was contemporary with Sethos II or had preceded him, during three years) . The plwraoh's victory meant that these wanderers could go no farther south. So some stayed in Canaan while others may have gone west, as far as Sicily and Sardi nia. In southwest Canaa n the Pilisti (bibl ical Ph ilistines) gave their name to Philistia, hence eventually to "Palestine."170 The Tjekkeru or Sikilu stayed farther north around Oor, and others perhaps beyond these. The Shardana are often compared in name with Sardinia, and the Shaklashu with Sicily. The Lukka were from (later) Lycia in southwest Asia Minor, and the Oanuna, from Cilicia in its southeast coastal area.

(ii ) Canaan, "As Was" This picture still holds good. Likewise the Late Bronze Age (lIB, or "[II") of thirteenth-century Canaan is regarded as effectively ending about this time (ca. 1200/USO), the following period (ca. 1200/]]SO to ca. 1000) being labeled (Early) Iron J. By the middle of the twelfth century (1150!I140), Egyptian overlordship in Canaan had ceased. While Sea People groups held the plains of Philistia and seacoast zones like Dar, the Canaanites held on in Canaan's foothills (as at Lachish, Gezer, etc.), in the Jezreel Valley from the sea to the Jordan (with Megiddo, Beth-Shan), and in Galilee. [n the central Canaanite highlands (the later Judah and Ephraim), the Israelites had gained a footing sometime before 1209li208, at which date Merenptah named them in his fifth year as a people, on his victory stela ("Israel Stela"). There a rash of new hamlets and villages appeared in twelfth -century Canaan, and late Canaanite pottery gave way to modified forms and to new fonns, as Iron I. This was the everyday crockery of the early Israelites (and probably others), as they gradually occupied more and more of central Canaan (period of the "judges," cf. chap. 5). The Philistine area was marked by pottery painted in a style that came with them from the Aegean -Mycenaean world, the Mycenaean II[Clb or monochrome wares. Eventually they moved on to painting their finer pottery with both black and red pigment, hence the modern name "bichrome" (two-colored). After a good period of use, this style lost its quality, and degenerate forms were made. Finally there arose new forms and fashions in pottery, plainer wares with a red wash ("slip"), hand polished ("burnished"), taken over by Israelites as well as others. So far, so good, so far as sequence goes. But what about dating? Until very recently the new red -slip, hand-burnished mode was associated by many with the beginning of the Hebrew "united monarchy" and with other archaeological fea tures attributed to that period (especially David and Solomon). But this part the absolute dating in years D.C. - is where controversy has arisen .

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(i) A New View
In a series of studies, Finkelstein has suggested a drastic lowering of the absolute dates B.C. of the whole series of archaeological phases (from strata in sites) from circa lI80 onward. The ostensible reason for doing this is the absence of Philistine-type pottery at neighboring sites that were not Ph ilist ine, of which some are said to be Egyptian -governed centers . Thus, from Egyptian inscriptions found in Lachish level VI and at Tel Sera in level IX, we know that these two places were actively inhabited under Ramesses III (lI84/l187- lI53/l156), with what appear to be his Year 10 (+ x, up to 19) at Lachish and Year 22 (up to 24) at Tel Sera, namely, in 1]75/1]78 (up to ]]6611]69) and in lI63/l166 (up to lI6]1 1164) respect ively. Neither site shows any trace of Philistine pottery, either monochrome or bichrome types. Therefore, Finkelstein would argue, these phases at the Lachish (VI) and Tel Sera (IX) sites (and the Egyptian dom inance down to ca. ]140, under Ramesses VI) must have ceased to exist, before the monochrome and bichrome styles of pottery came into use by the Philistines, or after circa 1140, instead of after circa lI80. Then monochrome would have flourished about 1140 to 1100 and bichrome during the eleventh century, toward 1000. Then, in turn, the next phase in pottery usage (originally dated to near 1000), debased bichrome and the Il ew red-slip, burnished style, had to be pushed down well into the tenth cent ury. The net result of all t his down -dating is that destruction levels in various sites once thought to be trace of conquests by David (ca. 1000 onward), Finkelstein would instead ascribe to the impact of the invasion of Palestine by the pharaoh Shoshenq I, in 925, five years after Solomon's death. Therefore the whole of the strata once considered the handiwork of the reigns of David and Solomon was pushed down in time, to nearer the reigns of Omri and Ahab (about 880 -850). And everything else after that point would then have to be compressed in real -time length, to fit in before the destructions of the last occupations of various sites - especially such as Hazar, known to have been destroyed by Tiglath -pileser III about 732, from his reports. Finkelstein has loudly rejected any idea that such places as Lachish (VI) and Tel Sera (IX) could have existed during circa 1]80- 1140 without importing any Philistine pottery when it was already in full use just "over the border" at that period. And of course, he has to posi t a third wave of Sea Peoples circa 1140/1135, to bring the new type of pottery (Mycenaean IIIC]b = monochrome) into Ca naan and into use there. 1Ji The results of all this for the united monarchy of David and Solomon are fairly drastic archaeolog ically. Instead of the matching gateways and casemate



walls, etc., at Gaer (VIII) and Hazor (X), and possib ly at Megiddo (VA-IVB) with its palatial buildings, and a long series of other settlements exhibiting occupation levels of the same cultural phase, we would have a lesser settlement at Megiddo (VIB), and correspondingly elsewhere. ln The walled towns, etc., would be reattributed to Omri and Ahab - and what had been previously considered theirs, reassigned to later reigns. The culture of the united monarchy would have been simply late Canaanite in pottery and in other ways, with other foreign elements.

(ii ) Is the New True?

However exciting (and all this certainly is!), mere novelty is never an automatic guarantee of truth. Acclaimed new gains to knowledge have to be shown to be real, and to provide the best overall explanation for the given situation. Not a few skeptical voices have dissented from Finkelstein's new picture. Let us see the other side of the coin.

(a) Making Waves

First, the assumption of a "th ird wave" of Sell Peoples arriving forty years after the second (of 1I80/1I77) at about 1140 borders on the biz;lrre. On the negative side, there is no whisper of ;lny kind for such an event from historical sources. Despite the pessimism of Ramesses IJJ, Carchemish (even if briefly attacked) surv ived the second wave well, under Kuzi-Tesup I (d. p. 99 above) and his successors as local "Great Kings" for about 180 years, and evidently had no problem with any theoretical third wave. By 1140 the Phoenician group of seaports (Tyre, Sidon, Byblos, Arvad, etc.) would have begun to flourish again, un touched by any third wave;l73 in circa 1080 Zakirbaal of Byblos could consult records of timber sales by his predecessors, to quote them to the Egyptian envoy Wenamun, barely sixty years later. The Sikils of Dor are also mentioned by Wenamun at circa 1080, and had a town there from at least 1150; earlier developments remain to be excavated. A new wave of people arriving in the area where Ramesses Ill's Sea People contemporaries would have already been settled for forty years would hardly have been welcomed by them in what became Philistia. So a third wave that introduced Aegean -inspired pottery only from about 1I40 is best regarded as a phantom, a mirage without attestation. Thus we must most likely stay with the second wave (1I8o/Il77) as the time when the Philistines, Sikils, and Sherden began their settlement in Ca-

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naan; there is no way that Ramesses II I could possibly have taken them all off to Egypt as prisoners. But this means t hat, in terms of use of pottery, we have to review possible historical choices. If the Philistines lived in southwest Canaan for forty yea rs before importing Mycenaean ll lC,b (monochrome) pottery, how did they manage till then? With local Canaanite wares? This seems very improbable. At Ashdod, as noted by others, the last Canaanite stratum (XIV) was immediately succeeded by the first Philistine town (stratum XIII), with its typical monochrome pottery (Mycenaean lllC,b types). In Tel Miqne/Ekron, similarly, the Canaanite town (VillA) was quickly followed by a clearly Philistine settlement (VII), using an abundance of monochrome pottery. likewise at Asca lon, Late Bronze stage V is followed by Philistine stage VI. In all three cases the Canaanite levels were destroyed violently, at least in part. At Ekron a massive Philistine settlement promptly replaced the burnt Canaanite one. At Ashdod, again, the Canaanite town was destroyed by conflagration, along with the port-fort of Ashdod (Tel Mor VII). The Philistines did not come and go as timid day-trippers - they imposed their rule on these three cities and an outport, brutally by fire and demolition when judged exped ient, quickly enforcing their political rule and alien Aegean material culture wherever their writ ran .174

(b) Philistines? "Not on My Patch!"

But not beyond the area of that writ. The local Canaanites, now underdogs in their own region, cannot possibly have welcomed this brusque intrusion. Both Lachish VI and Tel Sera IX of the early twel ft h century stayed outside the Philistine orbit, and virtually no trace of Philist ine monochrome (or the later bichrome) pottery has yet been found there. And, compared with the large quantities of Philistine monochrome pottery found in their adopted cities (Ashdod, Ekron, Ascalon), quantitatively very little of it recurs in Canaanite towns sited clearly outside the zone of immediate Philistine dominance. This phenomenon of politica l limits to cultural phenomena is well enough attested in other cases, and is not unique. Mazar has already cited such examples: (I) Early Bronze III Khirbet Kerak wares found in the main Jezreel sites (east to west) of Beth -Shan, Megiddo, and Yoqneam were l1otfound in use only five kilometers westward in Tel Qashish . (2) Middle Bronze/Late Bronze bichrome pottery was found abundantly in Megiddo, but not at all at l3 ethShan in the ample levels of that period. (3) The late sevent h-century Iron II pottery current at (Phil istine) Ekron and Timna h is absent from neighboring Judean sites only a few kilometers away. To all this one might add (4) where in



Transjordan, a clear cultural boundary has been detected between Iron II Moab and Am mon oFinkelstein's riposte (over the Khirbet Kerak example) that different t ime plwses are involved is no answer to all ofthese.17 5 The sociological/anthropological question that nobody has asked is, wily did good Canaanite housewives in (e.g.) Lachish or Tel Sera not fall for the novel pottery designs over the border in Philistia? To that, various sociological! anthropological answers should be realistically considered. (I) These ladies were not short of good pottery already- "Who wants dull, alien monochrome when we've got plenty of our own good, more colorful ! L13 IIBIII IJ bichrome?" they may have mutteredP6 And (2) imports are often dearer than homemade; why should these thrifty housewives payout for unwanted, dull, foreign novelties? Then (3), "These new people are hostile! They murdered our cousins and other relatives down in Ashdod and Ascalon, destroyed their towns and built ugly, walled new ones - we're not buying off thelllf' So, for the first forty -tofifty years there were probably very real boundaries, and more than just geographical, between Philistia and surrounding late Canaanite towns, while the Canaanites within Philistia (having lost control to these fo reigners) found themselves an underclass in their own land . Philistine monochrome and bichrome wares may excite r~s, but they may have carried very different socia l connotations indeed for Canaanites in the early decades of Philistine dominance and enforced occupat ion. These "contextUlIl" aspects should be tllken into account - and seriously! The Finkelstein kind of view never began even to consider such other aspects besides mere physical presence/absence, and exclu sively in terms of playing barren games with chronology.

(c) Dating - the Early Half

But in agreement with Finkelstein, chronology has its place. At Lachish, items found in level VI include pieces naming Ramesses II I, while a sherd bears in Egyptian hieratic a date line not less than Year iO or more than Year 19 (maximum range, 1178-1166) . So Lachish VI, finally destroyed with fire, would have come to its end soon after some date within about 1177/1165, within three to twelve years of the Philistines' arrival in southwest Canaan. l77 Given the human factors already mentioned and the short overlap with the Philistines settling in, it is no great wonder that Lachish neither boasts (nor chose to boast) free use of Philistine monochrome, and died before Philistine bichrome had been either developed or spread around. Then, in level IX at Tel Sera, were found more hieratic texts, one of Year 22 (+ x), not higher than Year 2) or 24, all within 11661 1161, allowing the fall of Tel Sera sometime after about 116411160 - at earliest,


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close in time after Lach ish VI. In level VIII the Philistines and their pottery seem to have ta ken over, whereas Lachish did not rise again unt il the start of the first millennium . Thus, during about )]70 to )]60 the Phil ist ines may finally have put an end to their resentful Canaanite neighbors in Lachish and Tel Sera, as they expanded their realm. It should be understood that, following the defeat of the Philistines and their allies at the northeast edge of the Delta, the Egyptians under Ramesses III maintained their overlordship over both the Canaanites and the newcomers, without distinction. Both lots would have to pay annual taxes to the Egyptian state and crown, as customary. The os traca from Lachish and Tel Sera well illustrate the levying of such harvest tax. 178 As always, Egyptian military control was not dense on the ground. They always maintained a base at Gaza, and the excavation at Beth -Shan pinpoints a northern garrison fortress. Such places as Lachish or Tel Sera should lIot be seen as Egyptian military bases - they merely paid taxes, and had long assimilated some Egyptian components into their general culture. After Ramesses III, his son Ramesses IV is known from a stone fragment found loose, without context, at Tell Dalhiyeh . Depending on its na ture (and any meaningful context), this piece may indicate his sovereignty in Canaan during 1156/1153 to 1150/t147 .179 The much-discussed bronze base of Ramesses VI from Megiddo may prove very little, given its secondary context. lSO However all that may be, there is no factual reason whatsoever to deny t hat the Philistines settled in southwest Canaan from 11 80/1177 (Year 8, Ramesses II !) and were themselves using their monochrome wares from the 1170S onward . Then, as commonly considered, they moved on to bichrome wares frOm roughly liSa into the eleventh century, this giving way to degenerate bichrome and the new red-slip wares later in that century and onward . On conventional dating between roughly 1180/1170 and 1000, most of the continuously occupied sites show just two, three, or fou r main occupation levels across about 170 or 180 years, which is a leisurely pace of development (average per level, about 90 years, 60 years, or 45 years respectively).

(d) Datillg - the Later Half

With that situation we must contrast what happens within the following period, 1000 to 730, on both the normal and "new" dating schemes. The densest sequence of occupation levels or strata is that at Hazar, as is universally recognized. On normal dating, from Hazar X in the mid- tenth century down to Hazar V's destruction by the Assyria ns in about 732 we have about 220 years, for six main stra ta (X down to V), with divisions into two main phases each (Xa and


b; IXa and b; Va and b) in th ree cases, givi ng three additional "periods." On this basis, counting only the six overall strata, t hey averaged some 36 to 37 years each; if we ta ke:lll nine phases seriously (6 + 3), they would have averaged just over 24 years each . Neither of these figures could possibly be c:llled excessive when com pared with the accepted general span of 50 or 60 years for strata in such Iron Age sites as Lachish, Yoqneam, Dor, Rehab, Beth-Shan, or Dan, still less the figures of go, 60, or 45 yea rs for convent ional twel ft h- and eleventh-century dating given above. But if we were to accept the "new" dates, then with Hazor X beginning about 880 (O mri, sole ruler in Israel) down to the same terminus in 732, we have 50 years, giving only 25 years for six overall strata, or else a mere 16 or '7 but 1 years average for nine main phases. Even allowing that in practice some would be shorter than others, there was, surely, hardly time for the good citizens of Hazor to catch their breath in one phase before the next was almost upon them. Why on earth should we believe in barely 20 years at most, and most probably less in practice, at Hazar in strata X to V, while accepting a tortoise-slow lifestyle of 60 or go years per stratum in the troubled days of the twelfth and eleventh centuries? It does not cohere very well . Finkelstein would concur with Yadin and Ben -Tor on the dating and co rrelations of Hazor VI- V from the ea rly eighth century down to 732 . That crushes all of Xalb, IXalb, VIII , and VII into the period circa 880 to 780, or barely 100 years for four full strata, six main phases, at 25 and 17 (or 16) years each respectively. Ahab and his dynasty had eventful careers, bu t by ancient standards the building, wars> etc., crowded into this progr:lm are in danger of becom ing frenetic rather tim] just stormy. At Rehab (Tel Rehovrrell es-Sa rem) the situ:ltion is analogous. 181 And all these acrobatics, simply to avoid having the Philistine monochrome and bichrome wares contemporary with Lach ish VI and Tel Sera IX for a few years! It seems a heavy price to pay, especially when :I wholly imagimry "third wave" ofSe:l Peoples has to be invented to start off the use of monochrome and bichrome wares in Canaan. So, in the light of all this, and other factors still to be considered, it seems entirely needless to force down the dating of the archaeological levels com mon ly linked wit h the united mon:lrchy so as to end up with this surely incredi ble contrast between strata of 60- or go-year spans in one troubled and politically confused period and strata of 17- to 25-year spans in another period under relatively stable monarchies.

(e) A "More Excellent Way"?

This weird contrast would quite simply be eliminated by taking the slack out of the relatively less well organized twelfth and eleventh centuries instead of squeezing


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the well-structured tenth and ninth centuries. If Lachish VI and Tel Sera IX lasted only a few years after Year 8 of Ibmesses III, and were gone by about 1170/1160,132 and after 10 or so years of makeshift settling in, the Philistines had then begun (1160/1150) to make in southwest Canaan their preferred monochrome pottery, followed by bichrome (ll20?), and by "degenerate" style (1070?) and initial red-slip ware before 1000, we have about 160 years maximum (as from 11 40, 140 years minimum) for these three cult ural phases, or about 50 years or so each. The occupation strata for this period of circa 1150 to 1000 (on average) vary mainly from two to three strata (occasionally four), rarely just one (as on all other solutions). This again presents no problem. So in fuct, it would be perfectly feasible to retain the normal chronology for tenth-to-eighth -century archaeology, thus not crushing sequences like Hazor and Rehob artificially, and to avoid overextending life spans of strata in the much more obscure, more troubled twelfth and eleventh cent uries. One might well describe this as a happy marriage, a Finkelstein-UssishkinlYadinBen-Tor solution. As in Gulliver's Travels (certainly in the film version!), the princess's wedding song was neither "Faithful" nor "Forever," but at the end "Faithful Forever." Which would suit well here, but witliout inventing an imaginary cloudburst of "third wave" Philistines. Their irruption into the cozy world of the "second wave" lot would have brought renewed destructions in the sequence of good Philistine strata of the mid- twelfth century. But no such major irruption is attested - Ekron VII-VI-V-IV flowed on peacefully, until another foe entirely wrecked the place around 1000. Likewise Ashdod XII I to X, with the same turn-ofthe-millennium ending. Ascalon too ran smooth ly on under its new Philistine bosses, but into the tenth century and beyond .

if) Details -

PONery in Culture and Ch ronology

In this long archaeological saga, it remains to clear up a few misconceptions in detail, as others have already done in part, not least about Solomon's supposed buildings in the archaeological record, and concerning Jerusalem. For long enough, some kinds of pottery were thought to belong specifically to the time of the tenth century (and so, to the united monarchy). But what now emerges from more than one quarter is that these types were more long-lived than previously thought. ]n other words, people continued to use them well in to the ninth century also. This was one factor in Finkelstein's move to date what had seemed to be tenth-century wares entirely down into the ninth (thus, after the united monarchy). They also occur in the ninth century in the destruction levels at Jezreel, Ahab's country palace (perhaps destroyed by Jehu about 841). However, the recent wo rk at Tel Rehov (Rehob) would indicate that


these wares were already in use in the tenth century, and simply continued in service during the ninthY'J Thus their presence in the ninth centu ry does not affect their earlier popularity in the tenth, and has no bearing on the link with the united monarchy (nor has Jezreel, a site of short span, and so of only lim ited value for th is kind of inquiry). A noteworthy feature of the twelfth and eleventh centuries is the emergence and proliferation of a great numbe r of small village sites in central Canaan, in what became the hill country of Judah in the south and of Ephraim farther north, as evidenced by a series of modern surveys.l34 Then, toward 1000, many of these sites were deserted, while some changed into small townships, and major historic sites changed culture (from a Canaan ite or Philist ine milieu, or prior abandonment), to be occupied by the users of red-slip, hand -burnished pottery, in a more urban society, with a cultural unity through most of the land, from the Negev north to Gal ilee and Dan. Some of these urban centers "under new management" suffered destructions after this initial prosperous period. Then they passed through a "quiet" interva l before rega ining theiT prosperity, either early as at Dan (Jeroboam I) or later in an epoch best admitted to be that of the builder kings, Omri and Ahab; see above, table 4 in chapter 2 with notes. Thus the first period of some prosperity and unified culture will logically have been that of the united mona rchy, with all the Israelite tribes in one governmen tal horizon under David and Solomon, with Saul as forerunner. This was "prosperity period A" of our chapter 2 . Under D avid such centers as Megiddo, BethShan, and Hazor were incorporated into Israel, besides expansion abroad . 135

(g) Je rusalem and Other Building Sites

(I) Sites Away from JeTflsaiem

In 1 Kings 9:15 we are told that Solomon raised a labor-levy "to build" seven items: the tem pIe, his palace, the "M illo" a nd wall (all in Jerusalem), and Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer. Each item has the "accusative part icle" cth prefixed, showing what was built. Thus all seven items were built in one way or another under Solomon. [n Jerusalem the temple and palace we have met already, with their cultural background. But we are /Jot told what was done at Hazar, Megiddo, or Gezer. This is where a well-understood archaeology might have helped decisively, with securely dated strata or occupation levels at the three sites. But not if this cannot be attained. So, what is the situation? As we have seen above (p. 53) the strata at Hazar,186 X to V, ending with the Assyrian destruction in 732, have been deemed to begin (with X) in either

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the tenth century or (w ith Finkelstein) the ninth. Before X, it is accepted by all t hat level XIII (in the citadel) and t he contemporary Lower Town flourished and were massively destroyed in the t hirteenth century. Then, for circa 1200 1000/880, namely, 200 or 320 years (depend ing Oil date, "normal" or Finkelstein, for level X), we have only two occupations at Hazor: XII and Xl. The first (twelfth century?) was little more than an encampment of simple huts, with numerous stone-lined storage pits amongst them . The latter (eleventh century?) remains (XI) were of an ullwalled village that had a possible cult place. None of this would easily count as the efforts of a royal administration, be it Solomonic or otherwise. The remains from stratum X are a different story, as is clear both from the original excavations by Yadin and from those recently undertaken by Ben -Tor. In this period the upper city had a well -built citadel, but occupying only the western half of the "city" area. It was surrounded (wherever tested) by a "casemate" wall, strictly a double wall with cross-walls forming chambers with in it, that could be left clear for storage or filled in to give added strength to the total "wall ." Integral with that wall, north of the center of its eastern limit, was a six -roomed gateway with front towers. Within the precinct were found buildings (south -southwest of the gateway) modified in the course of time (levels Xa , IXa, b) until replaced by massive new structures that are generally conceded to belong to Ahab's dynasty (level VIII) . As noticed above (p. 53), the attempt to move levels XJl X down to O mri and Ahab, thus forcing down the date of level VIII, leads to wholly artificial and improbable results, implying frenetic changes - and instability - every 16 to 20 years, which is totally inconsistent with the rule of a mainly settled monarchy under the Omri and Jeroboam II dynasties. And this stands in crazy contrast with slow changes (on ly every 50 to 90 years!) in seemingly extraordinarily stable condit ions (only one to four strata in 150 years!) duri ng the far more chaotic age of the twelfth and eleventh centuries, with the competing host ile groups of the Philistines, late Canaanites, early Israelites, and sundry Transjordani:ms. The sheer logic of the situation would suggest that it is far more desirable to compress the sequence in the troubled twelfth and eleventh cent uries and to keep the full-length sequence in the tenth to eighth centuries, simply to make archaeological sense, without allY prior recourse to the Hebrew Bible or other records. When we find that, on strictly historical grounds, a properly unified state in Canaan Jirstcame about during the tenth century (David, Solomon) before splitting up into two such smaller states that then remained stable, and on ly local tribal entities of all shades (and an abortive kingship, of Saul) effectively "ruled" before about 1000, then the clear match of cultural/archaeological change (Canaanite to un ified "red -wash Israelite"; villages giving way to fewer urban centers), historical/political change (united monarchy), and tangib le set'47


tlement change (sudden appearance of "official," nomural, monumental architecture, Hazor and elsewhere) all comes together in meaningful concord, and makes good sense in :Ill dimensions. The results given us by :I lower dating scheme p:ltently do not. SO t:'H, Hnor. Megiddo is the second township listed.187 Here it is wise to distinguish between the series of overall occupations at Megiddo and detailed (almost insoluble) problems such:ls those that concern the m:lin city g:lteway. Canaanite Megiddo of stratum VII 13 is generally accepted to belong to the thirteenth cen~ tury. The following stratum VilA in turn belongs to the earlier part of the twelfth century; among ivories found in its ruins is a pen case bearing the entouches of Ramesses [II (1187/1184- 1156/1153). Thereafter, possibly after an interval, the town was reoccupied by an unimpressive settlement now numbered VII3. In sequence, this had to be of a later twelfth -century date at the earliest. Then came a much more impressive settlement, stratum VIA, "a large and rich city" in the words of Ussishkin, and usually ascribed to the eleventh century. After massive destruction by fire (through either conquest or earthquake), there came a more modest level of domestic buildings, level VB, and perhaps one major building. Then came a "rebuild," with much more impressive structures in the level now known as VA-[VB. To their number belong (by common consent) the northeast building 6000, with adjacent casemate walling; some domestic buildings (338, etc.) at the southeast edge; the southern "residency" (or "palace") 1723, :lnd west of it the big building 1482. There is :I[so the "gallery" that led to a water supply; on stables, see just below. The numbered buildings were of monumental character, more so th:ln at Hazor. The outer "wall" of the city was formed by the outer walls of the buildings around its circumference, linked up by stretches of casemate wall where needed . Above this level was stratum IVA. This period witnessed the thorough refortification of Megiddo with a massive, solid w:lll, with its segments h:lving "offsets," whereby one segment of the wall projected slightly beyond the adjacent one. This led to the wholesale replacement of the former buildings by new ones; stables (or stores) over the 6000 building in the northeast; under these have been detected good traces of possible stables/stores of the VA-IV B period . New structures arose in the southeast quadrant; and new buildings instead of building 1723, and more stables (or stores) replacing 1482. The water system was developed. Megiddo [VA was destroyed by the Assyrians in the late eighth century, who then built (early seventh centu ry) a new town (Megiddo Ill) with Assyrian-type residencies, and an Assyrian-period two-chambered gate. Then, at the end of the seventh century (or into the sixth), a fortress was bu ilt (probably by the Babylonians), being Megiddo II, lasting into Persian times. Megiddo IVA had had a four-chambered gate, preceded by a six-chambered gate. The

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solid walls of IVA - curiously! - came up to these successive gates, but were not clearly bonded into them. The much older city VIA had had a gate of a different type, while the VB settlement was unfortified and had no special gate. What happened in level VA-IV13 is unclear, hotly disputed, and remains an enigma. We may make a tentative suggestion only. The four-chambered preAssyrian (divided monarchy) gateway is said to have been bonded to the solid offset wall, which is undoubtedly later than the set of buildings which, partially linked by casemate walls, had formed the earlier circuit of the city's defense. Such four -chambered gates in Israel (as distinct from Judah) can be assigned to not later than the eighth century, when (e.g.) both the one at Dar and the Megiddo one were destroyed by the Assyrians. Their builders would have been the Om rides in the ninth century rather than (e.g.) Jeroboam II in the mideighth. [n this situation it is logical to assign the six-chambered gate at Megiddo to the VA -IV13 period, exactly as at Hazor. 18S The Hazar evidence is strongly against an Om ride date for the six-chambered gate there. And our sequence of "prosperity" and lesser periods (pp. 57-61 above) is solidly against pushing Omride work down to Jeroboam [I's time, and the work of his time into impossible limbo . So, what is pre-Om ride, such as period VA-IVI3, has (as there noted) to belong to a previous such prosperous period, for which only the united monarchy will realistically fit the bill. The Megiddo six-chambered gate is bereft of context by the total rebuild of the walls flanking it, when the new four-chambered gate was built, and by the wide-ranging destructive activities of the 1930S excavations in this area. This all has to be inference, 110t proof; but at least it is reasonable inference. The famous city of Gezer lS9 was active in the fourteenth century (Amarna letters to Egypt), corresponding to level XVI in Late Bronze IIA. It declined in the thirteenth century (level XV), and the campaign by Merenptah of Egypt (1209/1208) includes Gezer in his conquests, which may have ruined the town of late stratum xv. Thus, in the twelfth century, after scanty occupation at most (XIV), there came Philistine prosperity and pottery along with late Canaanite participation (levels XI II -XI), into the eleventh century. These were followed by a poorer occupation (X-IX), using fresh, red -slipped pottery, ending with destruction of the settlement. This, in sequence, would also be eleventh or early tenth century. Then, by contrast, in Vlll, we have refurbishment of the town, with a splendid new (inner) city gateway, six-chambered like Hazar X and Megiddo VA- lV13 in design and general scale, with a section of casemate wall stlll joining up with it, precisely as at Hazar X. Gezer VII[ was then destroyed. Strata VII (in which a new four -chambered gate was built) and VI then fol lowed, with the latter being most likely destroyed by the Assyrians (ca. 732), as Neo-Assyrian tablets occurred in stratum V, which had an Assyrian-period


two-chambered gate. Here we see yet aga in the same sequence as at Dor, Hazor, and Megiddo. And doubtless with th e same im plications as to date. Chronologically the destruction of Gezer IX would fit the campaign best attributed to Siamun (ca . 979/978- 960/959; cf. 1 Kings 9:15-16, with pp. 108-10 above). That of level VIII would then go with the campaign ofShoshenq I in 925, hence the six-chambered gate and casemates would - again - find their best context in the tenth century, and in the united mo narchy, entirely regardless of whether we like it or not. The net result for Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer is that cast-iron certainty over attribution of particular remains to the time of (e.g.) Solomon is not strictly possible. But if we are to avoid bizarre im probabilit ies in the assign men t of strata and periods, then the exciting new view" of Finkelstein falls down rather badly in the probability stakes; views nearer to the normal may be less exciting, but they come a great deal closer to reality and can be retained as a sensible working hypothesis. In short, the finds at Hazer X-IX, Megiddo VAIVB, and Gezer IX and VIII are the most likely to represent the physical realities only hinted at in I Kings 9:15 .
(2) Jerusalem

Here the problem is the sheer lack of material, and the massive lack (in good measure) of adequate exposure of remains, affecting not merely the united monarchy period but most other periods as well. As (U)rusalimu, Jerusalem occurs in the Egyptian Execration Texts of the early second millennium, while its fourteenth -century ruler Abdi- Khepa sent letters to the court of Akhenaten, king of Egypt (Amarna correspondence). 190 The external sources then resume with Sennacherib of Assyria in 701, in his campaign against Hezekiah of Judah and his allies, as we have seen. In terms of archaeological presence, the earlier periods (Middle and Late Bronze) have also been the subject of controversy, and not simply Iron IIA ("united monarchy"). Before circa 720/700, oldest Jerusalem proper was restricted to the north-south ridge directly south of the "saddle" (Ophe!) between it and the present-day Temple Mount on the north. As it is currently impossible for severely practical reasons to do any exploratory digging within the Temple Mount precinct, or in the built-up area directly ad joining this on its north side, there is thus no possibility of testing for, or recovering, remains of the temples of Solomon or Zerubbabel, or for Solomon's palace complex either south or north of the original temple precinct. Given the destructive nature of the clearance of older remains and establishment of massive foundations by the Herodian, Roman, Byzantine, Arabic, Ottoman, and other builders, even a full -scale dig is inherently unlikely to yield practical re-


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suits in any case. Thus, absence of traces of work by Solomon or Zerubbabel in this zone is not their Fault, and proves nothing . However, that leaves the Ophel area and the north-south ridge of oldest jerusalem proper. Here, for a realistic outcome, it is needful to consider two aspects: the state and nature of the physical remains, and the state of the evidence for Jerusalem during Middle and L.1te Bronze and Iron IIA. Then the Jerusalem of David and Solomon can be seen in proper perspective. Oldest Jerusalem is a frustrating site to dig. The destructive impact by Neo-Babylonians, Romans, Byzantines, and the rest has wrought dire havoc, to which has to be added that of the relatively unscientific clearances by early excavators (Weill, Macalister, etc.) prior to the 1960s, and - again - the practical difficulties of digging on the north -south ridge. There is also an overburden of modern buildings, gardens, etc., not readily to be disturbed by diggers. Thus Miss Kenyon's meticulous but very limited trenches probably touched barely 2 percent of the area, leaving some 98 percent untouched. 191 More extensive work since 1978 till now may have extended the area dug to up to 5 percent, but that still leaves some 95 percent undug (and mostly undiggable), or ruined by early clearances. l92 Fu rthermore, the ancients felt constrained by lack of space along the top of the ridge. So, certainly along its east side, they intermittently built out terracing, to support extended areas for their buildings. Such terracing (and buildings) were liable to collapse or hostile destruction; renewed terracing and buildings would often reuse many of the same old stones, obscuring the nature, form, or even data for the very existence of earlier work here. Only the latest structures and destructions usually survive to any extent. On the level zones of the main ridge, again, the later builders (Roman, Byzantine, etc.) would often clear down to (and into) bedrock - destroying earlier work, without even traces surviving.193 So, in these circumstances, we are in effect lucky to have anything really old at alL The common and strident claim that "archaeology offers no evidence" for this, that, or the other period in Jerusalem should be taken not just with a pinch of salt but with a whole bucketful! With a!l this clearly in mind, we may now look at Jerusalem in the Middle Bronze to Iron lIA periods with better understanding. In the Middle Bronze Age, the name in the Execration Texts is each time written with the "three hills" determinative used for foreign lands and settlements, and specifically for such arrangements as the little Canaanite city-states consisting of a local "capital" town with its surrau nding territory and sundry lesser settlements. Thus Jerusalem here is a town plus its territory, lIot just a tribal zone. 194 In these particular texts, tribal groups are separately named as such, explicitly, such as those belonging to Byblos and Irqata. As for Jerusalem's sphere of rule at this time, it alone with Shechem shared control over the hill country of Canaan from south 151


of the vale of /ezreel down to Hebron : Shechem the north, Jerusalem the south. No other major center is named until one reaches either Ascalon westward on the coast or a Rehob which is either the one near Accho or the one by the Jordan near Beth-Shan. Therefore, as the Egyptian authorities were interested in places with potential for rebell ion, not just glorified villages or hamlets, the Jerusalem of these texts was a principal center in its region and not just the out post of some other state (unnamed !), as claimed . With the texts agree the remains so far discovered. Along the east side of the north-south ridge (or "eastern hill") have twice been found respectable seg ments of the enclosure wall of the Middle Bronze II city: 12.25 meters (about 40 feet) by Miss Kenyon, and later, another 30-meter stretch (about 90/100 feet), parts of it reinforced, by the Shiloh expedition . The wall was some 2 to 3 meters thick (about 7 to 10 feet), had Middle Bronze II sherds associated with it, and served as the basis for walls both then and in later periods. There would be no point in having such a wall along one side ofthe town only; its presence implies a full circuit of the eastern hil! .195 Recently, continuing work on the east side has revealed some formidable defenses for the Gihon spring, the oldest city's water supply. Here parts of two towers of cyclopean masonry plus a pool have been found of this period; a third tower probably existed then also. l96 [n short, Mid dle Bronze Jerusalem was a compact, strongly defended hil! -zone center - not just somebody else's minor outpost. In the Late Bronze Age, fifteenth to thirteenth centuries, it is a similar story, so far as the physical evidence goes. The Amarna letters show clearly Jeru salem's importance in the fourteenth century. It belonged to the group of primary Canaanite cities that corresponded directly with the Egypt ian court (letters 285-90) - as did its northern hill-country rival Shechem (nos. 252-54), and such as Gezer ( nos. 267-71), Megiddo (nos. 242-46), Ascalon (nos. 320-26), etc. l97 As in the Middle Bronze Age, Shechem and Jerusalem shared dominance in the Canaanite hil! country. As others have noted, its ruler, Abdi- Khepa, was a very active city ruler, battling with contemporaries who ruled in Gezer and Gath; 193 other towns "belonged to Jerusalem" then, and there was room for a fifty-man-strong Egyptian garrison . 199 This was no mere house in a small estate, as has been unrealistically suggested ! On the archaeological plane, one cannot dismiss the role of Jerusalem and its ruler merely because we have no rich palace with several tons of pottery. The claims have been made that "no remains of a [Late Bronze ] town have been found," that "more than enough exposure" has been made "to decide whether or not there was a Late Bronze Age town in Jerusalem," and against claims of erosion, some Late Bronze sherds should have shown up but "they are not there." So especially against the fourteenth -century town .200

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However, the facts are somewhat different. Between 2 and 5 percent of a site dug, at a site so badly destroyed from Herodian to Ottoman times, is not remotely "more than enough exposure" - it is little more than a handful of often narrow trenches. With 95 percent of the site untouched (and largely unreachable), and massive destfllction in late antiquity, it is entirely premature to claim that the limited digs hitherto can be treated as definitive. As others have pointed out, t here are positive finds that point to a Late Bronze town, extending over a length comparable with the Middle Bronze one or beyond it . Late Bronze pottery and strata (= sllccessive phases of occupation) were found in Kenyon's areas A and P and Shiloh's area El. Architecture is not wholly absent; remains turned up in Shiloh's area G. In the L1te Bronze Age, fortification walls and massive gateways were not customary (under Egyptian rule, against revolt?); the locals had to make do with a ring of edge-to -edge domestic dwellings for local security. And the thirteenth and twelfth centuries had a massive steppedstone structure at the northeast corner of early Jerusalem's eastern ridge, which indicates an active local regime during (say) roughly 1230 -1150, still existing thereafter. In the light of all these considerations, it is entirely wrong to attempt to dismiss the existence of a compact and active township at Jerusalem from the fourteenth to twelfth centuries, or going on later. 201 So, with these lessons in mind, we may at last turn to the Jerusalem ofDavid and Solomon . ''''e have seen already that the most important structurestemple, palace complex - were located en bloc north ofOphel and the old city along the eastern ridge. Whatever remains of them might still exist (after NeoBabylonian destruction, Persian-age reworking, Herodian replacement, and demolition by Romans and others) are irrevocably buried under the present Tem ple Mount . David first occupied the fortress of oldest jerusalem (the eastern ridge south ofOphel), and did work there on the "Millo" (2 Sam . 5:9). Then his new ally Hiram of Tyre built him a palace (5:11). This might have been inside the north end of the old dty, but equally may have adjoined its north side, on Ophel, just south of the future Temple Mount. As Dr. Eilat Mazar pointed out, David descended into the city fortress when a Philistine advance was reported (5:17-18) - presumably from his new palace up on its north side. Thus she would deduce that David's palace once stood in the Ophel area. 202 Solomon too worked at the Millo, and on the wall ofJerusalem (I Kings 9:15). Of the latter, we need expect to find next to nothing - it would be reworked by later Judean kings (e.g ., Hezekiah, 2 ehron. 32:5), and much of the walls were destroyed by the Babylonians. As for the Millo, it could not have been the original stepped stone structure in the northeast part of the oldest city, but it may be represented by the later fills that covered the stepped-stone structure and its mantle, as part of later work - and which had within it the typical tenth -century pottery,


plain with hand-burnished red slip, and associated types.103 This represents most probably the efforts of David and Solomon's epoch .

(J ) Sites Elsewhere in Israel atld Jlldah

The four prominent sites reviewed above are by no means the only places in which people lived during the brief decades of the "united monarchy." Successive lists of other sites showing datable occupations in the tenth century have long since been given by leading archaeologists. Even without the four sites above, Dever listed over 20 sites, and Mazar nearly )0, with [ron IlA/tenth century occupations, at all levels from modest villages to walled settlements. The recently published south Samaria su rvey shows nearly 100 smaller sites for that area alone, within about 1050- 900.2<)4 Cf. fig. 24. Thus the strange idea that tenth -century Palestine was almost uninhabited and unable to sustain a modest "empire" is, frank ly, a nonstarter. So also is the equally bizarre notion that a compact, fortified site like early Jerusalem could not be the capital for a small nation-state or a m i ni - empire . 20~ In the for mative years of empires, thei r energies go into territorial expansion; conspicuous display is expressed in major cities and monuments only later, often on the eve of decline or in its beginnings. A good example is Egypt. Based in a minuscule capital, post-Middle Kingdom Thebes, in 120 miles of narrow Nile Valley below Aswan, Ahmose I expelled the Hyksos and rebounded into Canaan, besides reaching deep into Nubia southward, extending his realm to a south north length of 1,400 miles of Nile Valley plus dominance in Canaan. Within some thirty years his second successor, Tuthmosis I, had reached beyond the Fourth Cataract of the Nubian Nile (to Kanisa Kurgus) and north to the Euphrates and Carchemish, a vast span of some 2,300 miles. By then Thebes was still small, the temple of Amun had gained only a couple of front halls and a south approach; Memphis had simply a new palace center of this king for his growing governance. But little more. Tuthmosis][1 affirmed this wide rule and built much more. Amenophis III saw the most opulence and new building, on the eve of decline, while the huge edifices of the Ramesside kings accompanied that decline. This can be replicated in other lands and epochs, and is seemingly unknown to our overspeculative, factually disadvantaged sociological anthropologists. In this context, fortress Jerusalem was an ideal base for David's swift, opportunistic campaigns and overlordsh ips; Solomon began to expand his base with the added governmental palace complex (and temple as ideological center), but then everything crumbled prematurely in his last years and under the inept Rehoboam, before consolidation was possible. Flourishing centers in the eleventh and tenth centuries include Dan up in

The Empire Strikes Back -

Saul, David, and S%man

the north (strata V_IV) .w; More centrally, Shechem was destroyed circa 1100, and remained so until a modest settlement arose in the tenth century. This was destroyed in the biter tenth century, and may have been the [Mi Jgdal[Shechem J of Shoshenq l's list (no. 58), north of Zemaraim en route to ITi Jrzah (no. 59) and "the Valley" par excellence, Le., jezreel (no. 65). Then Shechem was again rebu ilt, as a proper township, in the late tenth/early ninth century, possibly corresponding to the early use of this place as his first capital by Jeroboam I of Israel (I Kings 12:25) . All this fits together well; but with Finkelstein's lower cluonology of Iron I/II strata generally, this would not work.207 After long nonoccupation, or minimal occupation, Taanach was again well settled in the thirteenth through the twelfth century, being destroyed about 1125 (IA-I13). Then came a further gap in occupation with only very slight settlement, until a renewal of the town Taanach in the tenth century (IIA-B), only to be destroyed late in that century. As Taanach is listed by Shoshenq I (no. 14), he is usually blamed for the destruction of this Tanaach (probably rightly). On a low Finkelstein dating of Iron I- II, Shoshenq would have found nothing worth destroying or listing in 926/925, with Taanach IIA-S arising only after he had disappearedFo8 l3eth-Shemesh IV had been a flourishing Late Bronze II town in the thirteenth century, seemingly destroyed around 1200. Founded later, level !II was a mere village, with Canaanite-type pottery and Philistine bichrome ware (by about 1110); the Canaanite population (and Philistine overlords?) had been joined by early Israelite settlers by the time of Eli (ca . 1080); cf. I Sam. 6:920. These Hebrews may have shared in the local material culture then . We hear of them moving in with the Canaanites here and elsewhere, and being subject to them (note judg. 1:3}; cf. 1:27-}}). Then, suddenly, we have in level IIa a remodeled town (no more Philistine stuff), with a strong masonry ring wall, as an administrative center in the tenth century. Correspondingly, Beth-Shemesh occurs in Solomon's second administrative district, and the contemporary inscribed fragment of one Hanan echoes the neighboring place Elon (of) Beth (House/Estate of) Hanan in I Kings 4:9; cf. above, p. 132. Thereafter BethShemesh survived until Sennacherib's destruction in 701, with seventh-century squatters dispersed when its water supply was blocked (by Philistines, it seems).209 This entire history all goes well on normal dating, but not on an artificially lowered one. Other sites repay study, but these must suffice here. Cf. already on Beth -Shan, p. 98 above. To end the theme, we turn to lesser sites revealed by ground surveys; it will suffice here to use the results from one of the latest -published and most careful such surveys, that of the terrain of Ephraim (south Samaria). In the area gone through, I}I Iron I sites (twelfth-eleventh centuries) are listed; then 94 sites for Iron Age I/II (tenth- early ninth centur ies); then 241 sites for [ron II


(basically eighth-seventh centuries), citing here the surveyors' dates. 210 If we understand roughly 2001150 years forthe hon [series (131 sites), then up to 100 years for their Iron Age 1/11 ( 94 sites), and at least 250 years (850-600) for their Iron II (241 sites), and note t he roughly equivalent proportion of time spans and sites, then it is no surprise that Iron I has nearly half as many again as [ron 1/11, and the longer span of Iron II (over twice the 1/11 period) has more than twice the number of reported sites. Not all sites would be contemporary throughout the whole of any given period, it should also be kept in mind, just as for the varied histories of extensively dug large sites in each epoch. In this light the "united monarchy" period is no less populous on this evidence than the main periods immediately before and after it. And it fits the changing histories of big sites as well as of the parallel developing cultures found also in the surveys.


The results of this long investigation into the tenth century must now be summed up. 1. An initial summary from the biblical sources was needful, to delimit the field of investigation, namely, the three reputed reigns of Saul, David, and Solomon over a single Hebrew kingdom . 2. Then inquiry had to be made into what external information was available, its limitations noted and the reasons for those li mitations clearly spelled out, in factual terms. The information from external sources in terms of explicit mel1tio115 of biblical characters such as Saul, David, or Solomon is almost zero, until Shalmaneser III had hostile contact with Ahab of Israel in 853. The reasons for this are stunningly simple and conclusive. From Mesopotamia, no Assyrian rulers had had direct colltact with Palestil1e before 853 - and so do not mention any local kings there. This is not the fault of the kings in Canaan, whether Israelite, Canaanite, or Philistine, and does not prove their nonexistence. From Egypt we have virtually no historical inscriptions whatsoever mentioning Palestinian powers or entities between Ramesses Il[ (ca. 1184-1153) and Shoshenq I (ca. 945-924). We have just two literary works, Wel1allJrm, referring only to coastal ports (Dar to Byblos), and the Moscow Literary Letter that knows of Seir.2li Plus the fragmentary triumphal scene of Siamun (ca. 979/978- 9601 959), overlapping with the early years of Solomon (970 -960), when a pharaoh smote Gezer and ceded it to him (I Kings 9:16). The vast mass of Egyptian records in the Delta and Memphis is long since lost for nearly all periods, includ-


The Empire Strikes Back -

Saul, David, and S%man

ing the tenth century. At Thebes, almost all records are local, private, and on fu nerary religion, not foreign wars. From the Levant, original texts are so fa r lostl undiscovered before the ninth century, except at l3yblos, whose kings celebrate only themselves. We have nothing from Tyre, Sidon, Damascus, etc., until much later. So, again, there is no mention of the Hebrew tenth-century monarchs and, again, it is not their fault, and certainly not proof of nonexistence. [n Israel itself, the deplorable state of pre- Herodian rema ins in oldest Jerusalem (Ophel and the eastern ridge), inaccessibility of much of its terrain, and the fact that it is 95 percent undug/undiggable (100 percent on the Temple Mount, where royal stelae might have been erected) - alJ these factors almost entirely exclude any hope of retrieving significant inscriptions from Jerusalem at any period before Herodian times. (The Siloam tunnel text [ca. 700 J survived precisely because it was in a safely buried location.) So, again, we cannot blame a David or a Solomon for all that happened to Jerusa lem after the ir time. Yet despite this very adverse situation, we do begin to have traces: the Tell Dan insc ription and with virtual certainty the Moabite Stone each mention "the House of David," implying his former role as a personal dynastic founder, about 150 years after his death . Then, within barely 50 years of his death (ca . 970), we have what is in all likelihood "the heights of David" in the list of Shoshenq I (ca . 925), with a final t for final d exactly as in Ethiopic. (A las, no clearly better and indisputable alternative can be offered, it seems!) The political situation of Hadadezer king of Aram-Zobab in circa 990 (reaching across the Euphrates) is extremely likely to find a reflex in the situation there in the time of Assur-rabi II of Assyria, as later reported by Shalmaneser Ill. So, explicit t races are beginning to emerge, even for the lim ited possibi lities of the tenth century. J . l3ut explicit evidence is 110t the only form of valid and informative evidence. It is equally important to measure off a document or account against what we know independently about the topics it includes. In this light much can be said: a little on Saul's time, more on David's, and much more on Solomon's epoch. Thus Saul's regime was profitably compared with the ethos and practices of Levantine kingship. Dav id's "empire" (inherited by Solomon) belongs to a particular type of "mini-empire," of a scope and nature only present and feasible within the interval between about 1180 and 870 and at no other time in the first millenn iu m, being known also from Neo -Hittite and Aramean analogues. Under Solomon, foreign relations do fit the context of his day; his temple and palace complex (and their furnishings) find ample and immediate cultural analogues, in both scale and nature. This is also true of the scale of his revenues; in fact, his 20 tons of gold in a year is poverty compared with the spending of over 380 tons of precious metal by Osorkon I soon afterward, and


the 7,000 tons of gold thllt Alexllnder the Grellt lifted from the vllnquished Persian Empire later on. Poetry (David) and instructional wisdom (Solomon) belong well in the tenth century, with e:lrlier roots, and llmple successors. 4. The physic:ll :lrchaeology of tenth-century Cam:ln is consistent with the former existence of:l unified state on its terrain then (with some monu mental architecture). Jerusalem cannot deliver much on this; but on normal datings, Hazor, Gezer, and Megiddo (largely) can. And the occupation of the rest of the area is also consistent with this; it was not a land of ghosts. The clever attempt to down-date the archaeological remains of the twelfth-to-eighth century substantially into the eleventh -to -Iate-eighth century will not really work, throws up bizarre anomalies, requires invention of new Aegean invasions, and is wholly needless. The coex istence of mutually hostile culturlll groups not using each other's prestige wares is perfectly feasible; and any compression in an archaeological timescale should be set in the twelfthleleventh centuries, not the tenth/eighth. Thus, normal dating should be retained, with its entire network of good correlations with social and political conditions also reflected in the biblical sources. 5.ln short, the testing of the biblical text against exterml dat:l (texts and artifactual contexts) shows precious little fantasy and much realistic agreement in practical and culturalllspects. Much more might be examined, but the sub jects reviewed here give some idea of the Teal situation.


Humble Beginnings -

around and in Canaan

Now we edge cautiously back into the second millennium B.C., before the settled age of lines of kings, so far as the early Israelites are concerned - before about 1042 (accession of Saul), on the dates suggested above, p. 83. The principal biblical sources are the existing books of joshua and judges, supplemented by I Sam. 1 - 10. Looking back in time, we see the biggest event in Hebrew tradition was the exodus from Egypt, followed at an interval (traditionally forty years) by their entry into Canaan. Questions surrounding an exodus can be safely left until chapter 6; but the presence in Canaan of an entity named Israel can be given a firm bottom date in Year 5 of Merenptah, which ran from within 1st Akhet 18/2nd Akhet I} :;: within Isth7th July Gregorian in 1209 to within 1st/ :qth July Gregorian in 1208 (and lIot 1207, as so many writers miscalculate}.1 So, if Israel entered Canaan from without, she did so prior to 1209 by an unknown interval. At any rate, about 1210 gives us a bottom date for the presence of a t ribal entity - so marked by its determinative on Merenptah's stela - clearly named Israel, settled or settling in Canaan by 1210 at the latest. Therefore, <IS we do not intend to write a novel about joshua battling it out with Merenptah's forces, it is simpler to set any such leader's entry before 1210 and to equate the period 1210- 1 042 - almost 170 years - with the so-called period of the judges featured in the books of Judges, Ruth, and I Samuel (1-10). The latest setting of the book of Joshua (if granted even minimal credence) would then in principle lie immedia tely in the decade or so before 1210, along with any Israelite entry into Canaan from outside. In archaeological terms in Canaan, we are in the end phase of Late Bronze (11131111) followed by the epoch of Iron I. In what follows we must first review the actual contents of the book of Joshua: what it actually says, rather than what some scholars wrongly think it says, partly through carelessness in not reading carefully the actual text and



partly through not knowing the proper cultural background. That done, the Near Eastern background and archaeology can then be compared with the real, not imaginary, Joshua text . As the Hebrews had not lived at Gilgal by the Jordan since t he creation, but are claimed to have arrived there from across the Jordan, it is in order next to look at the relevant narratives and their possible background. Thereafter we can return to the period after Joshua, to the content of the book of Judges, to analyze its contents, not just its framework, and set a theoretical dating scheme for its main acto rs, and add in the data from 1 Sam. 1- 10 prior to Saul. We will then look again at appropriate Near Eastern background and archaeology, before essaying an overall result .



Conveniently, the obvious contents (by modern chapter/verse divisions) can be summarized thus. Table 8. T he Book of Joshua as [t [s




Across the Jordan into Canaan (1-5:12): New leader (I); spying out the new area (2); crossing into Canaan (3) . Entry, Gilgal: memory stones (4); circumcision and passover (5:1-13). First Conflict (5:13-8:29): jericho destroyed/burned - then back at Gilgal (YI3-6:27) . Ai, defeat, then destroyed/burned; then back at Gilgal (7-8:29) . Interlude: First Covenant Rite, Ebal (8:30 -34) Gibeon Sneaks Alliance (9) Israel continues to stay at Gilga!; no occupation of jericho-Ai area. Second Conflict - Southern Battles (10): Battle of Gibe on; death of five kings (10:1-27). Attacks on: Makkedah, Libnah, Lachish, Eglon, Hebron, Debir, in each case attacked, taken, ruler and people killed, tllel1l11ove 0/1, not stopp ing to occupy. Gezer, only king (and forces) killed, trying to relieve Lachish; city not said to be attacked. Israel returns to HQ at Gilgal (N.B.: bracketing verses: 15,43) (10:28-43) Third Conflict - Northern Battles (11): Battle of the Waters of Merom, destruction of hostile forces (ll:l-IS). Hazar, chief center, burned (like Jericho and Ai), and n o other (11 :13). Rhetorical summary for southern and northern wars (1l :1 6-20); Joshua fought for "many days" ("long time") (11 :18).

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arou1ld and ill Canaan

Am/ex: slaying Anakites in south, excluding Gaza, Gath, Ashdod (11 :11 23) N.B .: 110 occupatio" of these regio1ls is claimed dow1l to this point. Israel was still based at Gilga!, at loshua's initial land allotment (14:6) . 6. Lists of Defeated Rulers (12): East of jordan, FInder Moses (12:1 -6): Amorite land ofSihon, Bashan under Og, defeated, allotted, occupi ed. West of jordan under joshua (127-24): thirty-one petty kingdoms defeated, kings slain, but terrain not occupied. A,mex: notice of areas not invaded (1}:l -7). 7. Formal Allotments of Territo ry (1):8- 21 :45): Uerrospect: Moses' allotments to Reuben, Gad, and first half Manasseh, east of Jordan (13:8-33); already begun to be occupied. Prospect: loshua's allotments 10 rest of Israel, west of Jordan not yet occupied (]4- 2]). Part I: (Gilgal) - Caleb, Judah, Ephraim, second half Manasseh
(14- 17)

Part 2: (Shiloh ) - surveys, theIJ allotment (]8:4-11): Benjamin, Simeon, Zebulon; Issachar, Asher, Naphtali; Dan; and Joshua (18:1]19:51) .

Part 3: (Shi/oh ) - cities of refuge; Levi tes (20-21). 8. Concluding Acts under Joshua (22- 24): East tribal forces return to east of Jordan ( 22). Joshua's farewell (23) . Second covelJallt rite, Shechel11 (24:1-27) . Annex: death of Joshua; rule of the elders, etc. (24:28 -33).
Such is the actual record, regardless of its date(s) or inherent nature. The picture that emerges from an attentive reading of the actua l narrative text of Joshua is very clear, leaving aside all the incidental rhetoric. After entry into Canaan from across the Jordan, a base camp was established (Gilgal) on the eastern edge of Jericho's territory, with due ceremony. Then both Jericho and Ai were successively destroyed, alldburned so that their occupa tion was ended . One notes that the Israelites did 1I0t immediately go up and d isperse themselves over the lands belonging to these townships, but remained based ill Cilga!. No conquest by occupation yet. But this initial local success was followed by a visit up to Mount Ebal close by Shechem , clearly unopposed, for a covenant-renewal ceremony (8 :30-34) . Theil home to Gilgal. The contlict with Canaanite city-state rulers in the south part of Canaan



is worth dose observation . After the battle for Gibeon, we see the Hebrews advance upon six towns in order, attacking and capturi ng them, killing their local kings and such of the inhabitants as had not gotten dear, and moving on, not holdil1g 011 to these places. Twice over (10 :15, 43), it is clearly stated that their strike force refilmed to base camp at Cilgal. So there was no sweeping takeover and occupation of this region at this point. And 110 total destruction of the towns att:lcked . What happened in the south was repeated up north. Hazer was both leader and famed center for the north Canaanite kinglets. Thus, as in the south, the Hebrew force defeated the opposition; they captured their towns, killed rulers and less mobile inhabitants, and symbolically burned Hazer, a nd Hazer only, to emphasize the end of its local supremacy. Again Israel did /Jot attempt immediately to hold on to Galilee; they remained based at Cilgal (cf. 14:6). These cam paigns were essentially disablillg raids; they were not territorial conquests with instant Hebrew occupation. The text is very dear about this. Cf. fig. 25. We are told that Joshua warred for some time ( 11:18), but are not given precise detail. But there are indirect indications of the possib le content of other similar raids. Thus the list of thirty-one defeated towns/slain kings in Josh. 12 includes more than those who people the narratives in 10-1 1. We additionally find Honnah and Arad in the Negev (12:14); Adullam, Bethel, and Geder in the south part of central Canaan (cf. 12 :13, 15, 16); Tappuah, Hepher, Aphek, Sharon ("Lasharon"), and Tirzah in the north part (cf. 12:17-18, 24); :lnd Megiddo, Taanach, Jokneam, Qedesh, and Goyim-Gilg:ll in Jezreel and Galilee (cf. 12:21-23) . The first indication of a real move in occupation outward beyond Gilgal comes in 18:4 . After the first allotment (14-17) of lands-to-be-occupied had been made, Ephraim-Mamsseh beg:ln to act 011 their lot - and found it no pushover to make a takeover (cf. 17:14-18). But they must quickly have made their way via Bethel up the twenty-five miles (forty kilometers) or so through Shiloh to gain Shechem and Tirzah - and with enough assurance to allow for the establ ishing of the tabernacle at Shiloh (18 :1, "the country [there] ... under their control"), where it ultimately stayed through the twelfth/early eleventh centuries (Iron I). Bethel probably fell at this time (cf. flashback entry, ludg. 1:22 -26), and Tirzah (cf. Josh. 12:24). As long noticed in bib lical studies, Shechem remains an enigma . No relationship is mentioned with it, other than geographical; it has no battle with Israel; no king of Shechem appears in either the narratives (IO-H) or the list of heads that rolled ( 12). Two fac tors are relevant. One is the long tradition of relationships with Shechem from the patriarchs onward (cf. Gen. 12:6 [Abraham ]; 3):l8-20 pillS chap. 34 [with 48:22? ], 3):4, and 3Tl2-17 [Jacob]), so that it was not wholly alien territory. The other is


Humble Beginni1lgs -

arou1ld and ill Canaan

that, in alJ probability, Shechem was little more t han a small village in the later t hirteenth century, not then a kingdom, Tirzah ruling the dist rict. Thus, before josh ua's deat h, the first Israelite zone of settlement had probably extended from t he Cilgal!lericho/Ai district via Bethel and Shiloh up to Shechem and Tirzah . Southward, Caleb went to gain Hebron and Debir (Josh. 14:6-15 and 15:13- 19; cf. flashback in judg. 1:12 -15). And in the center-north Joshua himself was granted Tim nath -serah (var. Timnath -heres), some sixteen miles southwest of Shechem (Josh. \9=49-50; cf. 24:30; judg. 2:9) . Under the elders, attempts were made to reach farther, but with little immediate headway (cf. Judg. 1- 2). Thus, to sum up, the book of joshua in reality simply records the Hebrew entry into Canaan, their base camp at Cilgal by the jordan, their initial raids (without occu pation!) against local rulers and subjects in south and north Canaan, followed by localized occupation (a) north from Cilgal as far as Shechem and Tirzah and (b) south to Hebron/Debir, and very little more. This is 110tthe sweeping, instant conquest -with -occupation tha t some hasty scholars would foist upon the text of joshua, withou t any factua l justification. Insofar as only jericho, Ai, and Hazar were explicitly allowed to have been burned into nonoccupation, it is also pointless going looking for extensive contlag ration levels at any other Late Bronze sites (of any phase) to identify them with any Israelite impact . Onto this initial picture judges follows directly and easily, with no inherent contradiction: it contrad icts only the bogus and superficial construction that some modern commentators have willfully thrust upon the biblical text of joshua without adequate reason . The fact is that biblical scholars have allowed themselves to be swept away by the upbeat, rhetorical element present in Joshua, a persistent feature of most war reports in ancient Near Eastern sources that they are not accustomed to understand and properly handle. See next section .


Here we need to coilate the narratives and lists that make up the existing book of Joshua in two almost equal parts. As with the "united monarchy," there are almost no external sources that mention people and events that feature in the books ofJoshua and Judges. And for similar reasons. In the late second millennium Assy ria remained east of the Euphrates and had no cause to report on the


llffairs of distllnt Cllnlllln. Thllt region formed pllrt of the Egyptilln empire for much of thllt period, but Egyptilln sources for Cllnaan lire limited essentillJly to very laconic reports of cllmpaigns by the New Kingdom pharaohs, and II hllndful of administrative lind litefllry texts that show almost no interest in the demography of highhnd Canaan at that t ime. For the fourteenth century, these are briefly supplemented by the Amarna letters, which include correspondence of Egyptilln VllSSllls in Cllman with the pharlloh's court. 2 But when the Egyptians did penetrate beyond the coast rou tes of Canlllln in the thirteenth/early twelfth centuries, then immediately we find brief mentions of biblical peoples. So Mount Seir (= Edom) appears in texts of Ramesses II (thirteenth century), and Seirite districts occur in a list of his that derives largely from one of Amenophis [[I (fourteenth century).) Moab is mentioned and depicted as object of a campaign by Ramesses II in his lists.4 People from Edom (so named) appear with their cattle, seeking pasture and water in the East Delta under Merenptah in his Year 8 (1206).~ The tent -dwelling people of Seir (Edom) were Tllided by Ramesses III within circa 1180 -1170.6 And to cap all these, we hllve, of course, the clear mention of Israel as II people in Cllnaan in Year 5 of Merenptah (1209/1208). In Numbers, Deuteronomy, and judges we lllso have mention of Hebrew relations with Moab and Seir-Edom, both in the traditions of their transit from Sinlli via Transjordlln to Canalln lind during the conflicts men tioned in Judges, i.e., in the thirteenth/twelfth centuries. Thus we in fact do have brief but clear attestation of Ismel itself in the late thirteenth century in Canaan, lind of her neighbors Moab in the thirteenth century and Seir-Edom in the fOUTteenth to early twelfth centuries in firsthand Egyptian military and administmtive records. Thllt important fact needs to be tllken firmly on bOllrd. The inner struggles of Israel and neighbors in highland Canallll and eastward were of no interest whatever to the pharaohs unless they risked infringing on Egypt ian interests - which was very rare and limited. However, precisely as with the united monarchy, so here. [t is in order for us to compare the docu ments in the books of joshua and judges and their content with relevant external background data, so that we have an objective standard by which to appraise these narratives, lists, etc. The data are both textual and graphic and also "archaeological" in the narrow sense of sites and artifacts. We will now consider both as concisely as possible.


Many features of the narratives in Joshua (and Judges) find direct echoes and counterparts in texts lind representlltions in their surrounding world.

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(i) Rootless Tribal and Related Croups in Late Bronze Canaan Reputedly fugitives from Egypt, and in rootless transit through Transjordan into Canaan, the tribal group "Israel" was not the only such population group troubling their neighbors (and sometimes, higher authorities) there in the late second millennium. The Amarna letters of the mid- fourteenth century are full of reports about restless groups such as the Apiru, or displaced people. This much-discussed term cannot be readily equated linguistically with biblical "Hebrew" (, ibri), as is often done. But there are clear behavioral analog ies between these Apiru and the displaced Hebrews who had fled Egypt and (now rootless) sought to establish themselves in Canaan. The biblical Hebrews in j oshua-judges sought to raid towns, and hopefully to seize control of them, occasionally burning them down (Jericho, Ai, Hazor). Of the Apiru we can read similar activities from the point of view of local city rulers in the Amarna letters. Time and again they are accused of trying to overcome cities and expel their petty kings ("mayors/governo rs" in Egypt ian usage), and get control, as did the Hebrews. Seeing t rouble, the people of Gibeon (Josh. 9) sought to make t reaty-alliance with the Hebrew intruders. And in the Amarna letters, city rulers continually fear towns joining up with the Apiru. O r they go over to the Apiru and make agreement or treaty with them, as the Gibeonites later did with Joshua and his people. Local rulers might band together aga inst a third party, just as the five kings of south Canaan did against Gibeon and Israel (Josh. 10) and the group in north Canaan (chap . II) did against joshua and his forcesJ This range of activity by Apiru and other groups is also attested in the thirteenth century, from brief Egyptian reports under Sethos I, circa 1295/!:~90 . His first stela of his Year 1 at Beth-Shan reports on the rulers of Hammath and Pella capturing Beth -Shan and besieging Rehob, until the pharaoh's forces recaptured Beth -Shan and relieved Rehob, securing also Yenoam. Compare the five kings led by jerusalem that threatened Gibeon, until joshua brought military deliverance. O n his second Beth -Shan stela a little later, Sethos I reports on t ribal con flict involving the "Apiru of the mountain of Yarmutu" (" Jarmuth"), along with the Tayaru folk, attacking another Asiatic group, of Ruhma; which mischief he stepped in to quell. This appears to have been in Lower Galilee, if the jarmuth concerned was that located later in Issachar (Josh. 21:29).8 The pictu re is much like that of Israel or of segments such as the Calebites (Josh . 14: 614; cf. judg. 1:12-15) battli ng it out with other groups such as the Anakim, but without pharaonic interference, until Merenptah in 1209 briefly repulsed some part of Israel's forces. This last event may find other echoes in our data. In Josh. 15:9 and 18:15 is found the seemingly tautologous place-name "Spring of the waters of Neph-



toah." Surely either "spring" or "waters" would have sufficed as definition! Bu t for long enough the suggestions have been made that (1) we should understand this name as for "Spring of Menephtoah," or in nlCt "Spring of Me(re)nptah," named after the pharaoh, and that (2) Lifta, just northwest of Jerusalem, marks the site and preserves a remnant of the name. 9 Whatever the military clash was, it may have stimulated the Egyptian forces into establishing a small "bridgehead" upland fort near Jerusalem to watch over Canaanites and Hebrews alike. With this should be compared a mention of "the troop-commanders of the Wells of Merenptah that are [in l the mountain -ridges," in Year 3 (1211), in a postal register of message -carrying officers then. 1o [t is possible that Merenptah's strike into Canaan dates to within Years 1 to 3.

(ii ) Leaders in the Levant

In the narratives Joshua is presented as a dynamic leader who can spur his people forward . This included conquest of two settlements as gateway to upland Canaan proper, then raiding t hrough Canaan, top-slicing local city rulers and temporarily disabling local opposition. Exploits of such a kind need direct lead ersh ip; it is not the product of a wandering, unfocused mob. Other dynamic "Joshuas" also flourished in the Late Bronze Levant. The city-based Labayu of Shechem made a strong impression on his contemporaries in the Amarna age, as the Amarna letters show. ll But far more remarkable was Abd i-ashirta, who, aided and succeeded by his equally wily son Aziru, created from scratch a kingdom of AmurTu based in the north Lebanon mountains and environs within the last ten or fifteen years of Akhenaten's reign, the main period of the Amarna letters that evidence this feat. In this they made full use of Apiru fighting men and auxiliaries, to expand their control over neighboring towns, not least profitable trading ports on the Med iterranean coast. Geopolitically this represented a much more ambitious achievement on the ground t han the modest initial Hebrew occupation of the Canaanite upland area from Hebron to Jericho/Ai (bypassing Jerusalem) up via Shiloh to Shechem and Tirzah. Thus the territorial achievement of Joshua and the elders (in maybe tenlfifteen years?) was certainly much less than that of Abdi-ashirta and Aziru - who also faced stiff opposition from their contem poraries, and had to cope with direct threats from Egypt and the Hittite power, as the Amarna letters and contemporary archives show. 12 Therefore there are no grounds whatsoever for denying reality or factuality to the Joshua narratives in terms of what they actually represent on the ground, when the rhetorical component is left aside.

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(iii ) Campaign Pre linun aries: Crossings, Sp ies, Commissioning, and Night Flights
(a) C rossing Jo rdan

This episode is narrated in Josh. p - 4:18: the river's flow stopped, leaving a dry crossing, as the waters had piled up at a town named Adam near Zarethan (3:16) . The stoppage lasted long enough for the Hebrews to get across in the day. This phenomenon directly reflects known reality, and is not fantasy. Some sixteen miles north of a crossing opposite Jericho, Adam is present -day Tell ed-Damieh. It is specifically in this district that the high banks of the Jordan have been liable to periodic collapses, sufficient to block the river for a time. Thus in December A.D. 1267 a high mound by the river collapsed into it, stopping its flow completely for sixteen hours. In 1906 a similar event occurred, and then during the earthquake in 1927. That time the west bank collapsed, taking the road with it, while just below this a 150-foot section of riverside cliff fel l across the river, damming it completely for twenty-one hours.!) Such an event in antiquity would have readily facil itated the crossing by the early Israelites.

(b) Spies, Decoys, Counterspies, and Barmaids

Use of spies and of "disinformation" was customary many centuries before Joshua and the late second millennium . We are told that Joshua sent Ollt two spies to observe Jericho and its approaches. [n that town they took refuge with a woman Rahab who threw in her lot with them and concealed them, while disinfonning the local king and his agents (Josh. 2). Use of sp ies and misinformation is found already and commonly in the eighteenth century, in the vast Mari archives in northeast Syria. 14 And in the thirteenth century, at the notorious Battle of Qadesh ( 1275), the Hittite king sent out decoys who duped Ramesses I! of Egypt into making a rash advance on that city. Then Ramesses' own spies caught some genuine Hitt ite spies, and beat the truth out of them. \3 The role of Rahab has been debated: simple harlot or fema le tavern keeper? This latter ro le is attested in the biblical world during the second m illenniu m in particular, not later than circa 1I00, after which the circumstances of brewing and dispens ing alcohol changed . As at Jericho the king demanded details of her visitors, so in Old Babylonian city-states the local ruler required tavern keepers to inform him of rogues;!6 the matter features in the law codes of the epoch ( Hammurabi, 109).



(c) Commissioning the Leader for War

Often in antiquity, war leaders sought, or were granted, an act of commission before going to war - and for other major actions such as building temples. Joshua had a visionary visitor (5:13 -15); others had their experiences. In Egypt, Tuthmosis [V in circa 1392 prepared for his Nubian campaign by consulting the god Amun in Thebes, who gave him encouragement. 17 After almost half a century without major wars, Merenptah had to face a major threat to Egypt from the Libyans and Sea Peoples. On the eve of the conflict the god Ptah of Mem phis appeared to him in a dream, offering him the sword of victory and saying in effect, "Fear nol."18 In turn, in the scenes of his Libyan wars in his memorial temple in Western Thebes, Ramesses J[[ had himself depicted as commissioned by, and receiving the sword of victory from , Amun, to be ready for battle. 19 In the thirteenth century the Hittite king HattusillJ[ and his queen had a variety of dreams, with commands from deity; while in the seventh century we find Assurbanipal (and even his army) receiving encouragement from deities in dreams before battJes.2o

(d) Nigh t Flights

War was not rest ricted to daylight hours, even in antiquity. We find nighttime maneuvers half a millennium before, in the Mari correspondence, wherein a foe breached the wall of the town of Talkhayum and invaded and seized it by night. 21 Then, in the later fourteenth century, both the Hittite king Mursil [I and his opponents resorted to overnight marches and attacks.22 To the thirteenth or fourteenth century belongs a letter found at Ugarit, whose author states: "My men were attacked [repeated ly I in the middle of the night, and a battle was fought."H For surprise attacks generally, compare such examples as the pharaoh Tuthmosis [II outwitting his Canaanite foes by a surprise move through a narrow pass to outflank and defeat them at Megiddo, and conversely the Hittite surprise attack on Ramesses II at the Battle of Qadesh .2 4 Military tactics were far from primitive by the thirteenth century.

(iv) Campaign Na rratives and Incidents In Josh. 1O- 1l we find what purport to be narratives of two lightning campaigns in south and north Canaan respectively. T hese texts show various features that cause no surprise to seasoned OrientaJists familiar with analogous campaign

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accounts elsewhere in the records from the anc ien t Near East, even if Old Testament students sometimes have not grasped their full import. Some fairly recent works, notably by Younger and Hess, have helped to clarify such understanding;25 here we shall present the matter as concisely and simply as possible, and add a little thereto. The southern campaign narrative has three parts. The first (10:1-14) gives the casus belli: the king of Jerusalem saw neighboring Gibeon's submission to Israel as a direct threat to his (and his allies') independence; hence he organized a preventive war, by first attacking Gibeon. Tied by treaty, Joshua and Israel then responded, defeating their foes and pursuing them, initially to Azekah and Makkedah (10 :1 -10), with remarkable phenomena credited to YHWH (lO :ll -14) . At this point it is emphasized that Israel after victory returned to base at Gilgal (10:15). The semnd part (10:16-28) concentrates on events around Makkedah. Following their defeat at Gibeon, the five leading Canaanite kings fled to Makkedah, hiding in a cave. To avoid losing momentum in the general pursuit of the foe (10:19), Joshua ordered that they be blocked in, to be dealt with later. Once the pursuit beyond Makkedah was over, the Hebrew forces could return to (temporary) camp at Makkedah (10 :21),and also take that town (10:28). That day the kings were retrieved, made to subm it 10 their victors' feet on their necks, slain and impaled until sunset, when they were buried in their cave of refuge (10:22-27). Clearly, that was the end of that day's work; an overnight stop at Makkedah is implied. The th ird part (10:29-43) then followed. In summary form we are told that Joshua and his force successively vanquished five more towns, and a seventh king (o fGezer) who had come to help one (Lachish). Then they fina lly reo turned to Gilga!. The northern campaign articulates similarly into three segments . The first includes, again, the casus belli. Alarmed by the Hebrew impact south of lezreel and sensing a threat to his ascendancy, the king of Hazar gathered an alliance against them (11 :1 -5). Meantime, as on the eve of the southern campaign (10:8), so now Joshua was told by deity, "Fear not!" (11 :6). The second narrates the main battle and defeat of the Canaanite forces, Hebrew pursuit of these, and the fa ll and destruction of Hazar (11:7-11) . The third then concisely summarizes (11 :12-15) the subsequent action, killing of kings and their subjects, destructions (but 110r bu mingO and plundering. A Hebrew return to Gilgal wirliour any immediate occupation of the northern terrain is implicit, as the Israelite base is still at Gilgal during the first act of allotment later on (14:6). These two successive but parallel campaign reports merit concise background comment from several viewpoints.


(aj Annalistic Structu res

We comment firs t on the overall srructu.res of t hese two reports in their con text . Earlier, for Israel's first armed cotlict in Canaan, taking Jericho and Ai, we have the longest account of all (6- 8), consisting of three chapters in mod ern biblical referencing. Thereafter, if at less length, it is the initial episodes in these two subsequent campa igns that get the fullest t reatment. In the south ern one, fuller account is given of t he battle for Gibeon and acts at Makkedah (10:7-27), compa red with the staccato, summary accounts of t he attacks on the following six cities, from Makkedah itself to Debir (10:28-39). In t he nort hern one, more concise overall, we have more on the major battle at Merom, consequent pursuit, and fall of Hazar (11:7-11), than on subsequen t actions (11:12-14). This kind of report profile is fam il iar to reade rs of ancient Near Eastern military reports, not least in the second millenn ium. Most striking is the example of the campaign annals ofTuth mosis III of Egypt in his Years 22 -42 (ca . 1458 -1438) . As others have noted, the pharaoh th ere gives a very full account of his initial victory at Megiddo, by contrast wi th the far more summary and stylized reports o f the ensuing sixteen subsequent campaigns. Just like Joshua ag<'linst up to seven kings in south Canaan and four -plus up north (final tota l of thirty-one, losh . 12:9-24), the pharaoh faced a hostile alliance: the rulers of Qadesh and Megiddo, plus 330 all ied kinglets.!6 The TenYear Annals of the Hittite ki ng MursiJ Il (later fourteen t h century) are also instructive. Exactly like the "prefaces" in the two loshua war reports (10 :1-4; 1l :1-5), det<'liling hostility by a number of foreign rulers against Joshua <'lnd Israel as reason for the wars, so in his annals Mursilll gives us a long "pre face" on the hostility of neig hboring rulers and people groups that led to his campaigns. 27 In these various annals and allied records, the more staccato, summary reports are presented in formulaic fashioll - but oftell with variations and 110t with blockheaded, total uniformity in using the formula. So, Josh. 10:27-39 in particular. We may schematize thus: Then Joshua and all Israel went from city A to city B and they set up against it, and they attacked it . BI YHWH gave city B into the hand of Israel, 131 and he/they took it. CI City, people, king, he put to the SWORD, C2 and left no survivors. C3 Joshu<'l did to (king of) city B, as he did to (k ing of) city X. A2


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Not every element appears (o r as precisely as given) in the six examples in Josh. IO:Z7-39. Some are omitted or abbreviated, and additional elements are included when required . We now tabulate. Table 9. Formulae for Captu red Towns in Joshua
Makkeda h l..ibnah Laehish Eglon



A, A,

[o mitted l [o mitted ] [o mitt ed] That day .


[o mitted ]

[o mitte<l]

[set) + O K [omitte<l]

[sct ] + O K [omitted] OK t vilhlges


OK + 2 day OK

OK +


OK +

OK +
destr. [o mitted ]




OK +
destr .


.. J as I.b

I .. J as I.e

. . J as Eg


hell), Gzr

The variations are of interest. For Makkedah the three initial elements, AI, Az, and BI, were not needed; Joshua and his forces were already at Makkedah, and YHWH's intervention that day was already clear for them. In 8z, "That day" linked th is entry to its context. Libnah shows the formulation in its full form . In the remaining four cases, it is piquant to note that ali jour omit completely any reference to deity - so much for the narrative being "theologically l:lden," to quote a worn-out cliche! Under 132, a time note is twice added, once to denote a longer time (Lachish, a "tough nut") and then to return to normal tim in g. Cz, "no survivors," is omitted twice, but is compensated for by a destruction note under Eglon . Rura[ outliers are added in, under Hebron and Debir, evidently a fe:lture of that area. In C3, three entries abbreviate the formula heavily, as being understood. At Lachish an untoward event occurred: another king from outside (Gezer) tried to help but was defeated, and so this fact was added to the Lachish dossier. None of this should be III isinterpreted as evidence of rival sources, different viewpoints, etc., etc. The near contemporary Near Eastern data forbid any



such literary acrobatics. In his Ten -Year Annals Mursil II, for example, shows much consistency in the basic formulae of his annual reports, but he does not hesitate to :ldd massively to the n:lrrative, or change its mold, when the events being reported require this.28 The same m:ly be s:lid for Tuthmosis III and others. But another fourteenth -century pair of documents - hitherto unnoticed in this reg:lrd - give us a vivid and close literary parallel to Josh . 10 in partiCllI:lr. These :Ire the twin Am:lrn:l letters EA 185 and 186, by one :luthor, Mayarzana, local king of Khashi, a few miles southwest of the later 13aalbec in the Biqa Valley of Lebanon. He complained to the pharaoh twice about the same incident, namely, an Apiru group ravaging a series of local towns and then having to be repulsed from his own town. The sequencing of their misdeeds in slightly variable formulaic fashion is very much like Josh. 10:28-39. Even more so, as he uses two similar but slightly different formulations in the two letters; and he cannot be split into an equivalent of J and E, or other such fictions! These missives are original documents. Le t us now look at the formulae used in each letter, and their application in pract ice. For EA 185, we have the following basic layout: (And) the Apiru took (city) X, 2. " a city of the King, my lord - " 3. they looted it, & torched it with fire . 4. The Apiru fled to Amenhotep.

We may now tabulate the entries as expressed in EA 185. Table lOA. Formulae, Towns Captured in EA 185






and +



Ushtu And Ushtu

took +


+ barely escapes

+ barely escapes


Then, at Khashi, the Apiru raided and were repulsed by the writer. For EA 186, we have the basic layout as follows:


Name of City, " a loyal city of the King, my lord, god and Sun -



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3. the 'Apiru took it, looted it, and burned it with fire . 4. they fled to Amenhotep ruler ofTushultu, who fed them .
We may now tabulate the entries as expressed in EA 186.

Table lOB. Formulae, Towns Captured in EA 186 Makhzibtu When Apiru took + OK Gilunu Magdalu Ushtu [lostl




OK (mirlUs "took")


[lost] [lost] [lostl

Here the writer stuck to his formula much more rigidly, except for the first entry, precisely because (as with Makkedah under Joshua) it was the first one, and he was eager to heap blame on Amenhotep, so he changed the word order in part and introduced his traitor first. But it is the same writer - there is no JlE in 185 or P in 1861 29 Thus both the basic formulaic layout and it s variations in Joshua reflect commonplace ancient Near Eastern usage as found in original and unitary works. This was how such military reports were customarily written, and t hese structures and others are the common coin of the second millennium already, long before Neo-Assyrian times.

(b) Stylistics

Second, we look more briefly at other features of such war reports.

(1) JVJetorical Style

So commonplace a phenomenon in the biblical world, it is this factor which has misled Old Testament scholars in particular in their evaluations of the book of Joshua. For example, 10:40-42 ends the account of the southern campaign in sweeping terms - Joshua had "subdued the whole region," he had "wholly destroyed all who breathed." And similarly in the summation that ends the northern campaign account (1I :16 -17, 23): "Joshua took the whole land and gave it as inheritance to Israel by their tribes" (11:23). And 21:43 -45. It is the careless reading of such verses as these, without a careful and


close reading of the nllrratives proper, that has encouraged Old Testamen t scholars to read into the entire book a whole myth of their own makillg, to the effect thllt the book of Joshua presents a sweeping, total conquest and occupa tion of Canaan by Joshua, which can then be falsely pitted against the narratives in Judges. 30 But this modern myth is merely a careless falsehood, based on the failure to recognize and understand ancient use of rhetorical summations. The "ails" are qualified in the Hebrew nllrrative itself. In \0:20 we learn that Joshull and his forces massively slew their foes "until they were finished off" ('adtllmlllam), but in the same breath the text states that "the remnant that survived got away into their defended towns." Thus the absolute wording is immediately qualified by exceptions - "'the quick and the dead," as one might say of pedestrians trying to cross our busy highways! Nor is this an isolated datum. To begin with, the allotments of land to the tribes were decided after Joshua's cam paigns, both those narrated and those merely mentioned (1l:18; cf. 1):1). Then we have a series of notices which indicate that, already under Joshua, the tribesfolk could not easily take possession of the territories raided; cf. such as 15:63; 16:10; 17:1 2-13, 18; lashua's still later critique, 18:3, before the second lI11otment; 19:47. And one should note 23:4-5, wherein Joshull spellks of havillg made a/lotlllCIltS, in principle, which the tribes must still then take up - "YHWH your God ... WILL drive them out ." So there is Ito total occupation shown to be achieved under Joshua himself in this book about Israel's entry into, not occupancy of, Clllllan. Once and for all. The type of rhetoric in question was 1I regular feature of military reports in the second and first millennia, as others have made very clear. We can thus be brief here. [n the [liter fifteenth century Tuthmosis II! could boast "the numerous army of Mitanni WllS overthrown within the hour, annihilated totally, like those (now) nOll-existent" - whereas, in fact, the forces of Mitanni lived to fight many another day, in the fifteenth and fourteenth centuries. Some centuries later, about 840/830, Mesha king of Moab could boast that "Israel has utterly perished for always" - a rather premature judgment at that date, by over a century! And so on, ad libitum .31 It is in th is frllme of reference thllt the Joshua rhetoric must lIiso be understood.
(2) Divine Intervention in War

This element has been noted 1Ilready (cf. lIbove, in chllp. 2), but may here be quickly reviewed in 1I second -millennium military context. Thus, in all three campaigns (jericho, south Canaan, and north Canaan), Joshua is commissioned by YHWH not to fear (cf. 5:13 -15; 10:8; 11:6). So also by Ptah and Amun were Merenptah in Egypt, and Tuthmosis IV long before him; and likewise

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Mursil II of the Hittites by his gods (Ten-Year Annals, etc .), all in the second millennium, besides such kings as Assurbanipal of Assyria down to the seventh century. Cf. 2.B.iii .c, p. 115 above. The sending of heavy hail on a foe by YHW H has been well compared to Hittite and Assyrian accounts of thunderbolts, etc.;32 clearly such phenomena did occur sporadically at times of battles, and the ancients treated them - as do our insurance companies! - as "acts of God." The famous "long day" and appeal to sun and moon have been much discllssed, and cannot be tackled anew in this work; hyperbole may be involved, and suffice it to remark otherwise that our long -standing friend Tuthmosis 1II witnessed some kind of shooting-star phenomenon that scattered an enemy.33 The support of deity is repeatedly invoked in what are otherwise straightforward historical accounts, because that is simply how the ancients saw their world. Again, the Ten -Year Annals of Mursil II are a good example among very many. This feature does lIot imply nonh istoricity either outside the Hebrew Bible or inside it.

(3) Philological Details: Names of People and Groups

The war reports in Josh . 10- 11 name people as well as places, mainly local rulers in Canaan .34 Proper onomastic study demonstrates that these names were not "made up" freely by the biblical writers (as at least one unwise commentator has opined), but correspond almost e ntirely with actual names and name t ypes current particularly in the second millennium . Thus the biblical Horitesl Hivites have long been recognized as the Hurrians of Near Eastern sources . The Perizzites may find a reflex in the personal name "Perissi" or Perizzi (also Hurrian) of a Mitannian envoy in cuneiform and Egyptian (EA 27). The Girgashites are directly comparable with the personal name G-r-g-sh and Girgishu of the administrative texts from Ugarit, and just possibly with the Qarqisha among the Hittite allies fought by Ramesses II. Coming to individu als, we may summarize succinctly. Rahab of Jericho bears a good West Sem itic name (Taanach, fifteenth century); Japhia of Lachish is a Yapia', with common omission of a divine name as at Mari (eighteenth century), Ugarit, and Semites in Egypt (thirteenth century).H Jabin of Hazar has an ancient name, known at Mari (eighteenth century). There another king of Hazor, Yabni-Adad, is also mentioned, and at Hazar itself a tablet has the personal name Ibni- [. .. ]; these are from a different root . Homm of Gezer has been considered as a form of West Semitic Haran. But it maybe a Hurrian Hur( r)am, lIsing the known elements H ur( r) - and -(a)II1.36 Adon i-sedeq of Jerusalem has a good second-millennium name form, and the name recurs at contemporary Ugarit. 37 Debir (of Eglon) bears a name probably attested in Egypt (as Semitic,


thi rteenth century) as well as in the form Dibri in Lev. 24:11 (a Danite). Jobab is Sem itic, possibly with south Arabian links . Hoham (Hebron) is best considered as a Hurrian-based name, with the elements Huhha- plus _(a}m. 38 At Jarmuth, Piram is again likely to be Hllrrian, Pir~ pillS -(a)!I/, on base Piri-/Biri-. Among the Anakim, Sheshai is Hurrian, attested in Nuzi (fifteenth century) and most likely on Hyksos scarabs in Egypt and Can aan (sixteenth century), while Talmai is typically Hurrian, with deity's name omitted, from eighteenth to thirteenth centuries, plus Talmai of Geshur of David's time (ca. 1000). But Ahiman is common West Semitic, with occurrences ranging from the eighteenth to the fifth centuries. The name Anak(im) goes back to the eighteenth century, being found (in the form Ya"anaq) in the Egypt ian execration texts for Canaan. Hess points out that the mix of Semitic and Hunian names in one kinship group is not unusual in the Late Bronze Age (late second millennium). This can be illustrated from such foreign families in Egypt at that time. Under Ramesses II, a general Urhiya bore a pure Hurrian name (" [Deity Xl is true"), while his son Yupa' bore a purely \Vest Semitic name. J 9 Slightly earlier, a man Didia under Sethos I recorded his past family through seven generations.40 His mother and mother-in-law both bore the Semitic name Tal, "Dewdrop." Among other names, his oldest male ancestor was a Padi- l3aal (Semitic), married to a lady Ibri-kul (pure Hurrian); other Semitic and/or Hurr ian etymologies apply to other intervening generatio ns. Thus we are dealing with real names, not invented ones and ( for Hurrian names) essentially of the second millennium .
(4) Achatl, Nam es atld Thefts

Finally here, the hapless Achan (Josh . 7) . He and his family bear real, well attested Semitic names, not fantasy ones. Much fuss has been made over the name Achan in the Hebrew text of Joshua and its relation to the variant Achar in I Chron. 2:7 and in the Septuagint version of loshua. In fact, as Hess has pointed out, Achan t Akan ) is unique in the Hebrew Bible, but is sufficiently at tested in other documents, ranging from Alalakh (eighteenth century) down to Punic. But the purely Hebrew term Achar t Akar} is more an epithet or nickname applied to him later, in view of his bad end, as in Chronicles, and then retrospectively carried through Joshua by the Septuagint translators, and giving scope for a play on words that the name Achan did not. 41 His fate for stealing plunder of Jericho put to the ban of destruction was to be slain and burned. Others too in antiquity were punished for such acts. At Mari (eighteenth century) various people were punished for asakkam aka/am, "breaking the taboo," but were filled by payment in silver (once with gold); in one text, it as said of an offender, "that man doesn't deserve to live!"

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but he was nevertheless simply fined . However, in a religious context, in an Old Babylonian liver-omens tablet of the same general epoch, it was laid down that a high priestess who repeatedly stole consecrated offerings should be seized and burned. A Berlin tablet also specifies that a high priestess, priest, or pr iest's wife should in such a case "be seized and put to death," but without specifying the nature of the execution.oI2 So, for a severe case of breaking wha t had been decreed as taboo, Achan suffered a long-standingly drastic fate . His loot is worth brief notice. This constituted 200 shekels of silver, a fine Babylonian robe, and a 50-shekel-weight ingot of gold (Josh. 7:21). As others have noted, the word used for "Babylonia" is the term known from cuneiform sources as Shankhar, and in Egyptian transcriptions as Sangar; its real pronunciation was nearer to "S(h)anghar," as the sound ghaill in Semitic (and its Hu rrian equivalent) is normally found as kif in the one script and g in the other. That term was used in the sixteenth to thirteenth centuries, not later, and is a mark of aut henticity.43 Babylonia exported garments north to Assyria and then to Anatolia and west to Aleppo in north Syria from at lellst the nineteenth! eighteenth cenlu ries onward. Babylonian merchants regularly traveled to Egypt (lind were even murdered en route, and robbed in Canllan) in the fourteenth century.44 Thus, that country's products continued to be known in the Levant, even if by means both fair lind foul. The gold ingot is more literally a "tongue" or wedge. The same term for a gold ingot (Heb. lesllOlI; Akkad . lishal1l1) is used in precisely th is way both here in Joshua and in the fourteenth -century Amarna letters, in even the same word order. But the 50-shekel ingot stolen from Jericho was chicken feed compllred with the massive \,ooo-shekel gold ingot thllt Tushratta king of Mitann i once sent to Amenophis III of Egypt .45 Thus we find the Aclwn narrative marked by features that fit very well with the Late Bronze Age world, but less so later.

(5) Iron Chariots and Other Oddities

From time to time biblical commen t ators who do not do their Near Eastern homework have dismissed various phenomena such as "iron chariots" (Josh. 1 7:16- 18; d. ludg. 1:19 and 4:3, 13) as allegedly too heavy to operate. 46 But t he assumption that the vehicle WllS wholly of iron is, of course, false - just as "ivory beds" (Amos 6:4) and lin "ivory house" (1 Kings 22:39; Amos P5) were not made of ivory but simply decorated with it. Such chariots were of wood, but probably with thin plates or fitments. Iron was in use as a valuable new metal, as a substance for jewelry use from the late thi rd and ellrly second millennill, and then as a rarer pract icallldjunct to bronze in the late second, as cuneiform


documents amply attest, backed up by occasional finds, the most spectacular being the gold~mounted iron dagger of Tutankhamull in Egypt. And if "iron chariots" were too heavy to use, what should we say about the Syrian and Canaanite chariots of gold, and of gold and silver, used by such as the kings of Qadesh and Megiddo when resisting Tuthmosis III at the Battle of Megiddo (ca. 1458), as his firsthand annals tell US?47 Gold is even heavier than iron! Clearly these "Cadillac" or "Rolls-Royce" models had some gold or gilded decoration; the pharaoh himself drove a chariot "of electrum" (gold/silver alloy). So the iron-fitted chariots of two centuries later are not to be dismissed in such cultural contexts. The same is true of the continued ritual and practical use of flint implements at this epoch; in Egypt and elsewhere flint saw use for many centuries alongside copper and bronze. For long use of flints in Mesopotamia and the Levant, note continued usage all the way down to our own epoch, as seen by archaeologists among rural workers of the present day.48

(v) The Record of Triumph

In Josh . 12:7-24, after summarizing Moses' conquests north of Moab with a "preface," Joshua's conquests are summed up in a full list of those he had defeated, forming a topographical list, in several coheren t groups of place- names. Such an arrangement is almost a verbal equivalent of the partly pictorial topographical lists of vanquished places and peoples that the pharaohs often set ou t on the great pylon towers and outside walls of their temples during mainly the New Kingdom, from Tuthmosis][[ (1479-1425) down to Ramesses III (ca. 1184~ 1153), with one major successor, Shishak or Shoshenq I (ca . 945-924). [n the New Kingdom a li ne of triumphal rhetoric often runs along the top of such lists, and further rhetorical text accompanies the scene of deity rewarding the victorious king slaying the foe, when it is included. The format of the actual lists is invariably that of a series of vertical ovals (like fortified enclosll res), each containing a place-name and surmounted by a man's head that is typical of the area concerned (e.g., of western Asia or Nubia). It is probable that such heads in effect personifY the defeated chiefs or rulers of the entities named in each case. These presentations come very close to being semipictorial equivalents of wha t we have in Josh. 12:9-24.49 Such ceremonial lists were the concomi tant to scenes and narratives of wars by Egypt's kings. And Josh. 12:9-24 makes a similarly fitting pendant to the war narratives of 10- 12 in particular. Like its Egyptian counterparts, the Hebrew list has sets of towns in geographica l groupings, sometimes corresponding in pari to routes used, but sometimes not . Nobody


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should imagine that the young Joshua in Egypt gazed up awed at such reliefs, and that old Joshua in Canaan therefore did a verbal list to pa rody Egyptia n triumphs. l3ut what we do have is the same broad concept of setting out the scale of the victory at the end of the record, in each culture, and within the same epoch.

(vi) Sharing out the Real Estate Area

(aJ The Biblical Data (,) Early Hopes, Not Late Topography
In Josh. 14- 19 we find the arrangements for the Hebrews to occupy in orderly fashion the regions they had merely raided, but in two phases (14- 17, then 1819) . This is explicitly cast as land grants stili to be taken up. Thus it should not be arbitrarily misconstrued as simply an implicit statement of t he geog raphy of (e.g.) the united monarchy, or of the time of Josiah, or whatever. As can be noted, the text does not fit into such unsupported suppositions. Thus it envisions Dan as destined to settle west of the hill country of central Canaan (vale of Sorek area), and only adds parenthetically that their fail ure here impelled them (in whole or in part) to seek their fortune elsewhere, in this event far north, some ten miles north of Lake Huleh . The envisioned allotments were never wholly taken up, even under David and Solomon . Thus, although t hese ki ngs cowed the Philistines (e.g ., 2. Sam . 8:1; 1 Kings 4:21), Philistia never had a Hebrew population of settlers, as projected in Josh. 15 :45-47 for Judah (proposed occupation of Ekron, Ashdod, and Gaza). Except as an early projection, this at no time fits the conditions of any later epoch . A possible early attempt to fulfill that projection (cf. ludg. 1:18) soon failed. And so on.

(2) The Format of the Land Grarlts

Dealing now primarily with the grants for western Palestine (Canaan), we can readily perceive that the records in losh. 14- 19 fall into very clearly defined types, with but few variations. Each tribal record tends to be framed with a heading or preface, then gives boundary sequences (I) andlor groups of towns (II), ending with a brief colophon and/or other remark when appropriate; variations occur. The basic model is seen in the grant to Judah, in Josh . 15:] -12, for borders (1), and 1):20-6) for constituent towns (II); Caleb's affairs precede these (14:6'79


15) and come between them (15:13-19), as a special adjunct to the main docu ment. Likewise in the second allotment, for Benjamin: first heading (18:11 ), borders (I; 18:12-20a), and colophon (18:20b); then second heading, constituent towns (II), and second colophon (18:21<1, 2Ib-28a, 28b, respectively). Also, Zebulon has a heading (19:loa) and the boundary sequence (I; t9= IOb-15a), then a town list (II ; 19:15a) before its colophon (19:1Sb-16). And so too, Naphtali: heading (19:32), boundaries 0; 19:33-34), constituent towns (1[; 19:3S-38), and colophon (19:39). Then we have a simple variant: heading, towns ( II) first, then borders (I), and final colophon. So with Issachar: heading (19 :17 -ISa), towns ( II; 19:ISb-21), then borders (I; 19:22a), and colophon (19:22b-23). And with Asher: heading (19 :24-25a), towns (II; 19:25b-26a), borders (I; 19:26b -30a), and colophon (19:30b-31). Others omit an element. Thus Simeon (being within Judah) has no border sequences (I) but simply a heading (19:1 -2a), the town list ( II; 19:2b-Sa), and colophon with comments (19:Sb-9). Likewise, because their north and south borders were in practice defined by Ephraim and Judah, and they largely moved out north, Dan has just the heading (19:40-4Ia) and town list (II; 19:4Ib46), then explanation (gone north) and colophon (19=47-4S) . Conversely, Ephraim and the western half of Manasseh each have a heading (Ephraim : 16:5a; Manasseh : 17=1 -2 with explanation), then boundary sequences (I), the south border of Ephraim (16 :sb-8), and for Manasseh (I) a sweep north, down the east, and then east-west along a south border (that served also as the northern one for Ephraim), in 167-10. The respective colophons are: for Ephraim, 16:10; for Manasseh (with long comments), 16:12-16. A hint of towns (II) is in a general remark for Ephraim (16:9), with towns in Manassite terrain; and similarly for West Manasseh (17:11) with named towns (II) in territories of Asher and Issachar. In the case of Ephraim and Manasseh that together formed "Joseph," we additionally have an introduction to the pair, with a general south boundary (16:1-4), and likewise a closing command to them both (17:17-IS). Finally, the heading for West Manasseh includes reference to their east-side relatives, and is accompanied by other notes (e.g., the case of the Zelophehad inheritance; 17:1-2, 3-6). Joshua himself has a modest grant (19:49-S0), as did Caleb before him. Cities of refuge are placed north, centrally, and south, three each, west and east of the Jordan (chap. 20). Finally, for the maintenance of the Levi tes, a final distribution of towns with land grants was made within the tribal territories (chap. 21).


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(b) The Near Eastern Background

(1) B01mdary Sequences in Ancietlt Contexts

From Near Eastern sources, one can begin to write virtually a history of boundary descriptions and town lists; but we will be less ambitious here. The boundary descriptions in Joshua are neither unparalleled nor in any wayan innovat ion in antiquity. As early as circa 2100 we find Ur Nammu of the Third Dynasty of Ur confirming the boundaries of the provinces of the homeland of the Sumerian Empire that he then ruled. so Already boundaries ran from A to B (whether by towns, mountains, canals, etc.) on the south, east. north. or west of the territory concerned, a precurso r of what we find in (e.g.) Josh. 15, almost a thousand years later at the end of the Late Bronze Age. Coming down to the period circa 1400 -1200, into the Late Bronze Age itself, the ma terial multiplies, significantly in the context of treaties (political "covenants"). In his treaty with Sunashshura king of Kizzuwatna (later Cit icia. around Ta rsus) in llbout 1400, the Hittite king Tudkhlllill II lays down the boundllries between the t wo realms . From the Mediterrllnelln Sea the line is demllrcated Vill II series of lowns, mountains, and a river, with careful note of which towns belong to Hatti or Kizzuwatna respectively. In four cases this sequence was subject to survey (compare the action in Josh . 18:4-9, when a survey preceded the second 11l1otment of land). In the fou rteenth cen tury, Suppiluliuma 1 of Hatti recognized the loyalty of Niqmad II king of Ugarit when (in their treaty) he set an advantageous boundary for him versus defeated rebel kings around. Again, a sequence of locations (forty-two all told), be they towns, mountains, marshes, etc., marked the new boundary. Then in the thirteenth century two successive trellties of Hattusil lI1 with Ulmi-Tesup and of Tudkhalia IV with Kurunta included boundaries between the Hittite realm and Tarkhuntassa respectively. Here. aga in, the line ran by various places and fea tures (towns, mountains, sinkholes, etc.; sixty localities in the second treaty), with careful note of what belongs to whom (d. Josh. 17:11) .51 In the case of Joshua also, the boundaries and land grants are set in the context of covenant, framed between the initial such ceremony at Mount Ebal with covenant renewal (8:30-35) and his closing renewal at Shechem later (24:1-27).
(2) Town Lists in DOCliments

Town lists are also attested in such contexts as t reaty/covenant, and (aga in) as far back as the third millennium. 52 In a treaty between north Syrian Ebla circa 2300 and a neighbor (Abarsal?), the prologue beg ins with two lists of six plus



fourteen towns "with their walled settlements," each declared to be "under the Ruler of Ebla,"all with a final colophon (l ike Joshua) that, of all the settlements, those subordinate to Ebla are Ebla's, and Ii kewise those (u nnamed) subordinate to Abarsal(?) are under Abarsal(?) .5J Otherwise t he Near East has yielded alJ manner of town lists in administrative documents, with headings, subheadings, colophons, etc., often very reminiscent of what appears in the formats in Joshua . Examples come from such Syrian cities as Mari (traces, eighteenth century), and more extensively at Alalakh (eighteenth/fifteenth centuries) and Ugarit (fourteenth/thirteenth cen turies). Of these there are good studies to which readers may be referred. The role of Josh. 21, provision for the support staff (Levites) of the central cult, is comparable with such provision th roughout the ancient Near East. All Egyptian temples, for example, had their endowed lands to support staff and cult. Settlements could yield revenues for that purpose, by the crops and cattle raised by their people, and other such sources. The temple of Amun, in Thebes under Ramesses III, owned fifty -six towns in Egypt and nine more in the Levant and Nubia as part of its estates with this in view. H This is not the same as staff living in towns and doing their own maintenance, but simply another, analogous way of achieving the same result. On the significance o f the format of the covenant as celebrated at Shechem, of a strictly fourteenth- and thirteenth-century type, see chapter 6 below, in the context of its forerunners in Exodus/Levit icus and Deuteronomy. It is one more indicator among several of the late second- millenn ium origins of much that is found in the book of Joshu a.


We may now turn to the results of surveys and excavations actually on and in the ground of ancient Canaan, to see briefly what range of information emerges for comparison with the data of the texts, both of Joshua and of other ancient Near Eastern written records such as we have already drawn upon. Before actu ally reviewing the data, the state of play must be considered. Archaeologically speaking, the appearance of Israel in Canaan prior to the reign of Merenptah and within that of Ramesses II - in the thirteenth cen tury - is Late Bronze Age lIB in most treatments of that topic. If this were so, then people are tempted to ask whether the ruin mounds of Palestine preserve any traces of the campaigns of Joshua (e.g., traces of destruction in Late Bronze levels), or of the beginnings of Israelite settlement in the twelfth -eleventh cen -


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turies (cf. Iudges). Jn any modern attempt to trace the effects of the campaigns, several points need to be made. First (as we have seen), the text of loshua does not imply huge and massive fiery destr uctions of every site visited (only lericho, Ai, and Hazar were burned) . The Egyptians did not usually burn cities, preferring to make them into profitable tax- paying vassals; the Hebrews under Joshua sought basically to kill off the Canaa nite leadership and manpower, to facilitate later occupation . These Egyptian and Hebrew policies are not readily detectable in the excavated ruins on sites. Second, even when a Late Bronze II settlement is found to have been damaged or destroyed, there is no absolute certainty as to who was responsible (Egyptians? local neighbors? Sea Peoples? the lsraelites?).55 Third, the identifications of some biblical place-names with mounds known today are not always certain - a wrong identification can br ing a wrong result. Fourth, the erosion of a n ancient settlement mound through the centuries by natural causes or human destruction can result in loss of the evidence for occupation and destruction of particular levels in a site. Fifth, with 95 percent of the site undug (as is common), the evidence may slill be under the ground. So any survey of city mounds in Canaan is provisional allhe best of t imes. Keeping these limitations in mind , we may now look briefly at the places encountered by loshua's expeditions. Vie are checking OLiI occupation, 'lOt irreleVant destructions. First, there is the long series of places named in his southern and north ern raids, as follows : ]. Azekah (Josh . 10:10), significantly, played no active role in lashua's campaign, as the Canaan ites and Hebrews surged past it in their conflict. Today it is identified with Tell Zakariya, on a high hill; hence it is no surprise that pursued and pursuers passed it by while its ancient inhabitants viewed the conflict from above. It was dug almost a cen t ury ago, and no modern work has been done there; but modern reassessment of the early work suggests that Azekah was occupied right through the Early, Middle, and Late Bronze periods, as well as through the Iron Age to Hellenistic times. (No work has seemingly been done at either Beth-Horan, Upper or Lower.)56 2. Makkedah (10 :16 -21,28) may be located at Khirbet el -Qom, very plausibly (but not with certainty). Only very limited survey and excavations could be done there, as the modern Arab village overlies much of the site. 57 Thus Late Bronze remains have not yet been found, a situat ion much [ike that at Dibon in Transjordan (see below), which thus remains indecisive at present. 3. Libnah (10:29-)0) can be pla usibly identified with Tell Bornat (Tel Burna), which was inhabited in the Late Bronze Age, in agreement with the probable date of loshua's raids.58


4. Lachi sh ( 10:3] -33) al Tell ed - Duweir was certainly a major local Canaanite center in Late Bronze Age [IB (level VII, thirteenth century) and into the early twelfth century (level VI, "Late Bronze [""fEarly [ron I). Levels VII and VI both show traces of destruction involving fire . Some authorities would identify the destruction oflevel VI (ca. ll50) with the attack by the Israelites under Joshua. But such a date is far too late, and the destruction of level VI [ is far more appropriate, in that the Hebrews did not then hold the city but merely raided it and passed on. Thus the local Canaanites were free to reestablish themselves and rebuild (= level VI). The later destruction cannot be assigned to a particular cause at present; the local Philistines may well have been responsible (see above, p. ]43).59 5. Gezer (IOJ3) was not touched by Joshua's campaign, but its king led forces to help Lachish. Gezer is firmly located at Tell lazari by inscriptions, and it certainly existed in Late Bronze Age 1113, when Merneptah of Egypt captured it in circa ]209/1208 ("Israel Stela"). Strat um XV of excavations in the mound would likely represent the Gezer of this period (cf. p. ]49 above).60 6. Eglon (10 :34-35) is in all likel ihood to be sited at present-day Tell 'Aitun (Tell 'Eton), occupied in the Late Bronze [[ period, and is not to be confused with Adullam or other places. 6!
7. Hebron (10 :36 -37) is in the general area of modern Hebron; the oldest

site is that on Jebel Rumeida. Work has ( so far) not yielded habitation of the Late Bronze Age, but one burial cave nearby was used more or less continuously from the Middle through the Ltte Bronze Age into (seemingly) Iron I. As the excavator observes, this may indicate a small Late Bronze occupation not yet detected by site excavation ."! 8. Deb ir (10 :38-39) . After formerly being located at Tell Beit Mirsim, biblical Debir is more securely located at Khirbet Rabud nearby; this site was inhabited in the fourteenth/thirteenth centuries, in the Late Bronze !J period, and was reoccupied directly in Early Iron [ (twelfth century).6) 9. Jarm uth (cf. 10:3, 23) as a city is not mentioned, but its king was slain. The site (Khirbet el-Yannuk) saw its heyday in the Early Bronze Age (fourththird millennia), and was then abandoned until the thirteenth century. [n LIte Bronze II the upper citadel was resettled. 64 10. Hazar (ll:], 10 -]3). Location is certain, at Tell el -Qedah.6' In 11:10 Hazar is described as having been "head of all these [local Canaanite] kingdoms." Its ruler, )abin I, bore the same name as his eventual successor ()abin [I) in Judg. 4, a name very closely related to that (Ibni-Adad) of his distant predecessor named in the archives of Mari in the eighteenth century (d p. ]75 above). The appearance in Joshua -Judges of two kings with the name Jabin is no more a "doublet"than two Niqmads ([] and [[I) and two Ammishtamrus (I

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and II) in Ugarit, or two Suppiluliumas (I and II), two Mursils (II and II!), and two Tudkhalias (III and IV) of the Hittites, or two pharaohs Amenophis (III and IV), Sethos (I and II), and Ramesses (I and II) in Egypt - all these in the fourteenth and thirteenth centuries. In the second millennium Hazer consisted of an upper citadel (on a high mound) which dominated a large "lower city" on its north side - a vast site, certainly then "head of all [Canaan's ] kingdoms." Both areas were destroyed along with a massive conflagration in the thirteenth century, probably toward its end (citadel, stratum XIII; lower city, stratum la). Insofar as the results of Yadin's work are confirmed by the new excavations under Ben-Tor, then it will seem very probable (as it did to Yadin, long ago) that the massive destruction of greater Hazar was that wrought by Joshua .66 For later Hazer, see under Judges below. But other places occur in the Josh. 12 king list. II. Meg iddo (cf. 12:21), Tell el-Mutesillim. Megiddo was an important place through the sixteenth to early twelfth centu ries (strata X to VilA, series of palaces, etc .), and it prospered also into the eleventh century (VI). after and before destructions.67 12. Taanach (12 :21), Tell Ta'annek. Occupied from the seventeenth to midfifteenth century, then not visibly until the late th irteenth into the twelfth century. The former date suits Joshua, and the latter Deborah in Judges.68 13. Joqneam (12:22), Tell Qemu n. With a very long history, its stratum XIX in the thirteenth century ended in destruction (one meter deep in debris), and a gap in occupation into the early twelfth century, when life resumed (strata XVlII-XVll) .69 14. Dar (12:23), still DoT. Traces of Late Bron2e Age I-II materials have turned up, but systemat ic excavation has not yet reached beyond circa 1100 levels.1 15. Tirzah (12:24), if at Tell el-Far'ah North (as often accepted). Here the Late Bronze Age remains (period VI) are scrappy and unsatisfactory, and are stated to cover "about three centuries into the sixteenth century IJCE." As the Middle Bronze Age only ends in the sixteenth century, the Late Bronze's t hree centuries would have to extend down in time fr01ll it, into the thirteenth century, not "into" the sixteenth. In that case a local ruler in Tirzah (if at Tell elFar'ah North) would be possible then. The first Iron Age remains (period VIla) were built upon a Late Bronze walL71 16. Aphek, in Sharon (12:18) . From the th irteenth centu ry, a central forti fied residence has been dug, with very international connections, probably of an Egyptian governor; other traces exist as well, such as tombs. (The loca l ruler presumably lived less palatially.)72 17. Jerusalem (10:1,5; 12:10). Jerusalem played a more important role in



the fourteenth century than the physical remains retrieved to date would suggest; the thirteenth-century remains (Cit y of David !eveI16) are likewise limited, but do exist; there was certainly a city then .n 18. Achshaph (12:20). This place, near Accho, is known to have existed in the thirteenth century under Ramesses II, from its mention in the route lists in Papyrus Anastasi I (21:4). Rival sites for its location include Tell eI -Harbaj (Tel Regev) and Tell Keisan, each of which show Late Bronze remains.74 19. Qedesh (12:22; and perhaps Judg. 4- 5) . Possibly the present-day Tell Abu Qudeis in Jezreel; its stratum VIII goes back to the thirteenth century at least; more is not known. Another Qedesh, at Tell Qudeish, is reported northwest of Lake Huleh, also of this period/ 5 20. Bethel (12:16). On the balance of evidence (as long recognized), to be located at Beitin; there Late Bronze remains were found of the Canaaniteculture town of the fourteenth and thirteenth centuries, succeeded in the twelfth by very different, poorer remains, that developed into probably the early Israelite settlement.76 Looking back over these twenty entries, omitting places whose identification on the ground is doubtfu l or which have not yet been explored archaeologically, we find that eighteen or nineteen of them were in being in Late Bronze (II) and one (Hebron) had tombs used then (of people who lived there?), leav ing only Makkedah without direct evidence - and most of that site is not accessible, hence is not decisive. This is a very good score by any standard . 2], Shechern (Tell Balatah). We now turn briefly to a specimen of a different kind: the curious silence about Shechem, and the nonactivity by its people at the time of the Israelite entry into Canaan, for wh ich scholars have offered various explanations in the past (cf. briefly already, p. 162 above). Here archaeological work offers a straightforv"ard solution, without the need for any elaborate theory. During most of the fourteenth century Shechem (like Jerusalem) was center for a very active local ruler, Labayu, and his sons, as is clear from the Amarna letters; his was the relatively prosperous settlement attested in stratum XII! of the excavations, which came to an end between 1350 and 1300, in the generation or so that followed him . The settlement of stratum XII (thirteenth century) was more modest, and no longer a center of power; nor was XI in the twelfth. These facts suggest that in fact Shechem rapidly lost its local power after Labayu, and became a mere satellite, politically, of neighboring Tirzah hence, in Josh. 12 we have a king of Tirzah but no longer one of Shechem. The villagers could hardly oppose the ceremonials of the Israelite host at Mount Ebal (Josh. 8:30 -35) or the later renewal nearby them (Josh. 24). So there was, in effect, no power base at Shechem to conquer in the late thirteenth century. Problem solved.77

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But before all this, we have the conquests of Jericho and Ai and the submission of Gibeon, whose archaeological status has in each case been more controversial. rn Jericho's case we have an instance of the fourth [i miting factor (p. 167 above), that of erosion For Ai we have more of an en igma: perhaps the wrong site (third limiting factor), or else our understanding or expectations of Ai's state and status may be at fault. In Gibeon's case it may be a fifth factor: with 95 percent of the site undug (as is common), the evidence may still be under the ground, on the basis of such traces as have turned up. 22. Jericho. Of its location, at Tell es-Sultan, near the modern village (ErRiha) that st ill bears its name, there is no doubt,18 And the town, though not at all large (about one acre), had a very long history, from before Neolithic times down to the late second millennium . It was obviously very prosperous in the Middle Bronze Age (early second millennium), as the spectacular finds from that period's tombs bear witness. But only traces of this survive on the town mound itself - part of the city wall and its defensive basal slope ("glacis"), and some of its small, close-set houses fronting on narrow, cobbled lanes . Bu t this all perished violently, including by fi re, at roughly 1550 or soon after. And for about 200 years the ru ins lay barren, before resettlement began in the fourteenth century. During that interval a great deal of the former Middle Bronze township was entirely removed by erosion (our fourth limiting factor); but for the tombs, its former substance would hardly have been suspected. But of the Late Bronze settlement from the mid~fourteenth century onward, almost nothing survives at all. Kenyon found the odd hearth or so (later fourteenth cent ury), and the so-called middle build ing may have been built and used (as also tombs 5, 4, 13) in the Late Bronze J13/l1A periods, at about 1425/1400 to 1275, in the light of Bienkowski's careful analyses. Very little else of the fourteenth and t hirteenth centuries has been recovered - and probably never can be.79 If 200 years of erosion sufficed to remove most of later Middle Bronze jericho, it is almost a miracle that anything on the mOllnd has survived at all from the 400 years of erosion between 1275 and the time of Ahab (875 -853), when we hear report of Jericho's rebuilding (I Kings 16:34) in [ron II - double the lengt h of time that largely cleared away the Middle Bronze town . It is for this reason, and not mere ha rmonization, that this factor must be given its due weight. The slope of jericho is such that most erosion would be eastward, and under the modern road, toward where now are found the spring, pools, and longstanding more modern occupation. There may well have been a Jericho during 1275- 1220, bu t above the t iny remains of that of 1400- 1275, so to speak, and all of this has long, long since gone. We will never find "joshua's Jericho" for that very simple reason. The "walls of jericho" would certainly have been like those of most other LI3 II towns of that per iod: the edge-to-edge circuit of the outer


walls of the houses, etc., that ringed the little settlement. Rahab's house on the wall (Josh . 2:15) suggests as much. This r ing would have butted onto the old Middle Bron2e walling, but its upper portions (and most of it anyway) were eroded along with the Late I3ronze abutments. The dramatic collapse of the walls in view of the Israelites may well have been a (for them) precise seismic movement, as with the blocking of the Jordan so soon before. A belt of jointed structures would fall in segments, not as a whole; and so Rahab's small segment may have survived. There has always been too much imagination about Jericho by moderns (never mind previous generations), and the basic factors have ironically been largely neglected. The town was always small, an appendage to its spring and oasis, and its value (for eastern newcomers) largely symbolic as an eastern gateway into Canaan . 2) . Ai. Ai is enigmatic, even simply in the biblical text, before going anywhere else.80 [t alone is given a locating phrase in the list of lash. 12, there described as "near Bethel" (12:9). And also, when the men of Ai turned to pursue an apparently retreating [srael, we sudden ly read: "not a man remained in Ai or Bethel who did not pursue Israel" (8:17) . Why? Could not the Ai warriors man age on their own? Or were they (and their chief) in truth only a dependency of Bethel? The men of Ai are described as "few" in 7:). The archaeology has merely underlined the enigma . Ha - 'ai (Ai) is commonly taken to mean "the ruin," being compared with the noun 'iy, plural 'iyyim, "ruin(s) ." And then this is compared with the modern name of a ruin mound a few m iles from l3ethel, Et-Tell in Arabic, meaning "ruin mound ." However, Kaufmann objected that Ai meant "(stone)heap," not "ruin."81 This Et-Tell has long been identified with ancien t Ai. Excavation (so far) has failed to find any occupation there after the destruction of the strong, walled, Early Bronze Age town at about 2400, until a renewed settlement appears at about 1220/1200 or soon after. It is hard to believe that anybody founded a township and named it "Ruin," so the original thirdmillennium settlement may have borne a different, proper name that was for gotten. Hence, later occupants called it "the Ruin" or (better?) "(Stone)heap." Maybe! It is easy (for some) to dismiss the whole narrative as a later story told to explain the noble ruin with its still visible (Early Bronze) walls. Bllt why bother? There would be more famous or important places to romanticize, if the need were felt. People did not write "historica l" novels with authentic research and background (e.g., the meticulous battle topography of Josh. 8) in Near Eastern antiquity, as we do today, and only since the last two hundred years or so. And this site is not the only "Et-Tell" in Canaan; there is (e.g.) another up by the north side of Lake Galilee, thought to be ancient Beth -Saida. So the modern name is not unique. It is possible that in the vicinity Ai is to be located e1se-


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where than at the Et-Tell by Bethe!' Attempts along this line have so far been fruitless; thus neighboring Khirbet Khaiyan :lnd Khirbet Khudriya are both of Byz:lntine date, :lfter A .D. 300. The recently investig:lted Khirbet e1 -Maqatir does not (yet?) h:lve the requisite :lrdl:leologic:ll profile to fit the other total d:lta. There might well be :lnother site of:l simil:lr kind that does, yet to be found. Whatever the truth of the matter, Ai was simply a dependency of Bethel, but someone in that community could lay claim to be Ai's chief (" king"). It is possible that Ai was at Et-Tell, and that - slightly refurbished - it served as a summer base for those who cultivated and harvested its lands (cf. Josh. 8:1 for land), and to whom Ai belonged, making therein shelters ( readily burned!) rather than brick houses. And as a strong point for those whose lands adjoined it. It still needs to be remembered, also, that the entire area of Et -Tell has not been dug; fully eroded parts, of course, can never tell us anything now. The Hebrews may well have taken Bethel after Ai, but in the narrative it is Ai that mattered because it had been the scene of an embarrassing reverse. So, for some time yet Ai may keep its secrets, and with that situation (as often in ancient Near Eastern studies) serious students must for the present be wise enough to be content, while open to whatever new d:lta or factors that may COme our way. 24. Gibeon. The identification of El-Jib as the site of Gibeon seems assured, in terms of geography and general remains so far found . The limited excavations at the site have yielded firs t visitors in Middle Bronze I, a proper settlement for Middle Bronze II, eight Late Bronze Age tombs, then a walled township in Iron I- II. Given that 95 percent of the site remains undug, the possibility of a Late Bronze Age occupation (in the light of the tombs) relmins open for future work to clarify.S! Of these twenty-four entries, only four can be regarded as deficient in background finds for LB II, and in those cases there are factors that account for the deficiency. The rest show very clearly that Joshu:l :lnd his raiders moved among (and against) towns that existed and which in severa l cases exhibit destructions at this period, even though there is no absolute proof of Israelite involvement - short of a victory inscription, there could hardly be any! This review shows up the far greater deficiencies in some critiques of the Joshua narratives and list that are now already out-of-date and distinctly misleading. 8 ) On top of al l this, the following should be noted: (1) Usually less than about 5 or to percent of any given mound is ever dug down to Late Bronze (or any other) levels; hence between 85 and 95 percent of our potential source of evidence is never seen. (2) The principal Hebrew policy under Joshua was to kill leaders and inhabitants, 110r to destroy the cities, but eventually to occupy them (cf. Deut. 6:to-Il), destroying only the alien cult places (Deut. 12:2-3). (3) Conquests, even historically well-known examples, often do IlOt leave behind the


sort of traces that modern scholars overconfidently expect, as Isserlin has cogently pointed 01lt. 84 And, at the end of the day, we should speak of an Israelite e!ltry into Canaan, and settlement: neither only a conquest (although raids and attacks were made), nor simply an infiltra tion (although some tribes moved in alongside Canaanites), nor just re-formation of local Canaanites into a new society" Israel" (although others, as at Shechem, may have joined the Hebrew nucleus; cf. Gibeon). But elements of several processes can be seen in the biblical narratives.8s For more sites of the period in the far south and east of jordan, see just below; unplaced and uncertain sites have, of course, to be disregarded.


Before we move on from joshua and his "elders" through the period of Judges and 1 Sam. 1- 7, to link up with the monarchy of chapter 4 (see sec. 5), we must first t idy up the story of the Israelites' transit north from Qadesb -Barnea at the northeast corner of Sinai adjoining Moab to the banks of the Jordan, and their partial settlement in Gilead and environs. Then, once Judges to 1 Sam. 1- 7 have been reviewed, the way is open to go back still further in time, to consider in chapter 6 the questions and data concerning the exodus and events in Sinai itself.


These are to be found mainly in Num. 10-34, with summary in Deu!. 1-3 and recalls of the Gilead settlement in Josh. 12:2-6 and 13:8 -33 . The traditional history falls into three phases. First, from Sinai, the Hebrews reputed ly traveled to Qadesh -Barnea. There, second, when they rebelled over a spy report or "feasibility study" on invading Canaan (and failed against the Negevites around Honnah), they were banished to wander for years in the wilderness until a Ilew generation might take over t he enterprise. The idea that the Hebrews spent forty years entirely at Qadesh is a modern error. Then, third, from Qadesh Barnea once more, whither they had returned after thirty-eight years' absence (Deut. 2:14), they went out to go past Edom and Moab proper to the tableland (the "Mishor") between the Arnon and just north of the Heshbon district. Then to Abel-Shittim and the so-called plains of Moab, overlooking the south end of the jordan from east to west opposite Jericho. We are here concerned briefl y with the second and third phases, in terms of background data .

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Exactly as wit h much of the united monarchy and of the Israel ite entry into Canaan, we do not have explicit narrative accounts from any external source such as those available in the twin monarchy period and for the Babylonian exile and return (chaps. 2- 3 above). And for much the same simple reasons. Until well into the first millennium R.C., the great Mesopotamian powers had no known links or contacts with early Transjordanian communities, and no reason for them in the late second millennium. Egypt's contacts with the region are mentioned in only fleeting references, and almost never in terms of popu lation groups. And local written sources during, say, 1500- 1000 simply do not exist at present. But this fact does not exhaust or remove the possibilities for correlating features of these accounts with external background, so as to distinguish between reality on the ground and fantasy in ancient minds (and some modern ones) . We now turn to such possibil ities.

(i) Qadesh-Barnea and Back

This plilee was, we ilre told (in Deut. 1:2), eleven dilYs' journey from Horeb by way of Mount Seif. From Qadesh, by Mount Hor (where Aaron died, Num . 20:22-29), Israel were near Edom, and within reach of the king of Arad in the Negev (Num . 21:1) . It has latterly been located at Ain eI-Qudeirat, close to Ain Qudeis, which preserves the name.86 This is roughly 1701180 miles from Horeb (if at or near Gebel Musa), which would be about sixteen miles a day at eleven days, which is close to a well -k nown ancient average of fifteen miles per day.s7 Qadesh -Bamea (if it is Ain el -Q udeirat) has yielded a fortress of the time of the Hebrew monarchies, but no earlier remains after the Neolithic period. This is probably not so surprising; tented wanderers like the Hebrews (and others) have commonly left no surviving traces. While away from Qadesh on their enforced wanderings, Moses was faced with more rebellion, from Korah, Dathan, and Abiram (Num. 16), as Israel traversed the Arabah rift valley between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba. The rebels came to a sticky end when suddenly the earth, as at Moses' word, swallowed them up, and "fire . .. from YHWH" smote the all ied group. At first blush, these are the kinds of reports that attract modern skepticism; but a closer look by Hart has suggested that this narrative reflects a phenomenon that could only have been known to someone who knew the local conditions in parts of the Arabah. There exist there h .'wirs, or mudtlats.s8 Over a deep mass of liquid



mud and ooze is formed a hard crust of clayey mud overlying layers of hard salt and half-dry mud, about thirty centimeters thick . Under normal conditions one may readily walk over or stay upon the crust without any problem, as if on firm ground; but increased humidity (especially with rainstorms) causes the crust to soften and break up, turning everything into gluey mud. Knowing his Sinai and Midian, as a storm came, Moses called other Israelites away from Korah's clan (cf. Num . 16:26), and issued his challenge. The storm came, the crust went, and so did the miscreants, and lightning ("fire of YHWH") dealt with the rebel incense offerers.

(ii ) Zones and Towns: Arad and Hormah These names flit twice through the wilderness narratives: in Nu m. 14:44-45; 21:1 -3, cf. 33:40, and then briefl y later (Joshua's list, 12:14, theirtwo "kings") in a total ing from Num. 21 :1-3; and in Judg. 1:16- 17, Arad near the Negev; men ofJu dah attack Zephath- Hormah. The picture is one of brief conflicts with a local power on the southern edge of Canaan, in the Negev region, across its base. That area has been investigated by survey and through several excavations, ranging from Beersheba in the west up to Arad in the northeast, centered on the Wad i es-Seba basin. The results have thrown up a remarkable profile, in terms of the history of human settlement there. The oldest major period - the Chalcolithic (fifth and fourth millennia) - was the greatest, in terms of number of settlements and their importance, closely followed by the Early Bronze Age in the third mil lenn ium . This appears from such sites as "Tel Beersheba," Tel Hali f (Khuweilfeh), Tel Masos (Kh irbet Meshash), Tel 'Ira (Khirbet Gharra), Tel Esdar, Tel Malhata (T. Milh), and Arad, going from west to east in an arc. But after 2200 there is (on present knowledge) a remarkable shrinkage in human activity here. For the early second millennium (Middle Bronze Age), only Tel Masos in the west-center and Tel Malhata in the east-center show an active life. Then, in the later second millennium, in the Late Bronze Age, the focus of lwman occupation is in Tel Halif in the northwest of the arc, and (late thirteenth century) at Tel Masos in the central zone. For both periods more sites may someday appear; but not up to the present moment. Then came revival in the Iron Age. During both Iron I and" (judges and monarchy periods), we find active "Beersheba," Tel Halif, Tel Masos, Tel Esdar, and Arad; then, during Iron II (monarchy), Tel "Ira and Tel Malhata reappear. 89 Cf. fig. 26. Thus, in such a context, we may straightforwardly understand the title "king of Arad" (Num . 21:1; 33:40) as belonging to whoever ruled over this Negev


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basin, from Beersheba to Arad. In the third millennium (by which time people in Canaan spoke Semitic), Arad was p robably the main capital of the area, ruling over the central towns and Tel Halif ("Beersheba" not then being inhab ited) . In the Middle Bronze Age (early second mi llennium), in the central zone, Tel Halif on the west and Tel Malhata on the east were the centers of the "Kingdom of Arad." Then, in the Late Bronze Age, in the northwest, Tel Hal if was main center, plus Tel Masos before 1200. Either of these sites may have been the town Zephath successively raided and wrecked by the Hebrews from Qadesh -Barnea (Num. 21:1 -3 ) and the Judeans from south Canaan (Judg. 1:17), gleefully renaming it Hormah, "Destruction," and then renewing the insult,90 Kingdoms can be named from a city and keep the name long after that town has lost its preeminence . Most famous is Assyria, strictly Ashur, named from its founding capital Ashur (from citystate beginn ings); but in subsequent centuries Assyria knew a series of other capitals: Nineveh, Calah, Sargonburg (Khorsabad), and briefly Harran (outside the country proper) on the eve of its fall. Arad shows the same phenomenon on a much humbler scale, likewise Hazar (cf. sec . 5 below) . Even when dead, Arad's mound kept its identity among the locals as a topographical point (d. Judg. 1:16), and was to rise again during the period of the Hebrew judges and monarchy (in our Iron I-II), concluding with a mentio n in 925 in the great list of the pharaoh Shoshenq 1.91

(iii ) Getting Round Edom, Moab, and Strange Places (Cf. Fig. 31)
From Qadesh- Barnea the Hebrews finally moved off, to reach Canaan, not directly via the Negev (after the conflict s just mentioned), but by skirting round the regions east of the Dead Sea so as to cross into Canaan over the Jordan . Their first duty was to bury Aaron, on Mount Hor (Num . 20:22-29), perhaps at Jebel Madeira or Mad(a)ra some way northeast and east of Qadesh, and then move on eas1. 92 This d irection, strictly northeast (21:1), on the "Way of Atharim" toward the Negev, alerted the king of Arad to act against the Israelites (21:1-3) - clearly, he anticipated a possible Hebrew invasion such as his predecessors had repulsed many years before (14:41 -45). These moves also alerted the king of Edam (on his status, see section iv just below), especially as he had been asked for passage through his territory (20 :14-21). So, when Israel descended (via Wadi Murra/the Darb es-Sultan) into the Arabah rift valley, he mustered arms against them. So Israel "turned away from them" (20:21), first southward, then east, to go round, or pass by, Edam . In the Numbers narrative, we find only mention of



Oboth and lye-Aba rim to bring Israel to the brink of Moab, without details 0:8 adds two about passing by Edom. However, the retrospective aside in Deut. 1 watering places, Gudgodah and Jotbatah,93 for the travelers' refreshment, and the informative itinerary in Numbers (33:41 -44) intercalates Zalmonah and Punon before reaching Oboth and lye-Abarim. 94 Here it is generally conceded that Punon9S may be identified with Feinan and the Wadis Feinan/Fidan, famed at various periods as a major copper-mi n ing district. About here, coincidentally or not, is placed the incident of the bronze snake (Num. 21:4-9) . It is at this point that geographers recognize a major west-east break across the highlands of Edom, breaking the land into two parts. Its north (up to the Wadi Hasa,ancient Zered), heartland Edom. is the Jebel or "Mountain"par excellence, an Arabic term that is the ultimate descendant of "Mount Seir" of the Egyptian and biblical texts. Its south is the even more remote wilderness held by Edom in later times. spanning to the broad Wadi Hisma (northern edge of Midian proper), with a route running off south into Arabia. 96 The break inward and eastward at Feinan, the Punon embayment, goes on via the broad Wadi Ghuweir, and afforded a pass route over the ridges onto the east flank of Edom. Going this way, and turning north (via Oboth here?), the Hebrews could then skirt northward along the eastern desert edges of Edom proper without interference from the main Edomite centers in their northwest zone, south from the west part of the Zered (west Hasa). Reaching the upper/eastern reaches of the Zered, they came within reach of the desert border of Moab at Iye-Abarim on that border of Moab, eastward toward the sunrise (Num . 21:12). By this means they got round Edom, and had truck only with local fellow pastoralists (cf. Deut. 2:29). From here the Hebrews skirted along the eastern desert fringes of Moab proper, from the upper Zered to the upper Arnon (Wadi Mujib, and possibly confluents), to D ibon-Gad (NUlIl . 33:45-46) north of it. Here, in the wilderness of Kedemoth (Dellt. 2:26),97 the migrants were close to the junction of three local kingdoms: Moab just behind and southwest of them, the south edge of Am mon extending northward, and before them the realm of 5ihon, the Amorite king of (south) Gilead. Moab and Ammon left the travelers alone, nor did Israel molest them. But Sihon opposed them . With no alternative route to the Jordan, and having no ancient kinship with Sihon, war led to Israel's elimination of 5ihon. and of his northern neighbor Og king of Bashan (Num. 21:21 -35). Then they could take over the Mishor plain between the Arnon and Gilead, and after several stops arrive by the Jordan, in the area of Abel-Shittim and the "Plains of Moab" opposite Jericho (Num. 22:1; 33:46 -48).98 The foregoing account provides a dear, simple, and sensible outline version of the route the Hebrews most likely took from Qadesh-Barnea, round Edom proper, and past Moab via the Mishor plains to the brink of the Jordan.

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This also ind icates the more limited size of early Edom (the northern mountain block) from t he Zered to the Wadi Feinan (Punon), before it had control of the southern mountain block from tbere to Wadi Hisma and the borders of Midian. However, in the northwest, Edam may already have laid claim to part of the Desert of Zin, just southwest of the Dead Sea, which explains why the Edomite ruler was unhappy (Num. 20:19- 21) about Israel coming from Qadesh close by there into the Arabah . In Num . 34:3 Moses tells his people that they will have (part) "of" the Desert of Zin, by Edam's border. Thus Edom then had territory west of the Arabah in Zin.

(iv) Edam and Moab (a ) Places

Places and Political Formats

Most of the places in the Hebrew trip round Edom and Moab cannot be readily located on the ground, simply because - unlike in western Palestine - there are few or no external sources to help with such a task . Some, however, can be located but present other problems for the student. Dibon, a capital of Moab under Mesha king of Moab circa 840/830, is read ily admitted to be located at modern Dhiban, just north of the Arnon (Wadi Mujib). The archaeology of the site is very fragmentary and incomplete, with (so far) no recovery of Late Bron zef[ron J-I1A rema ins. But by contrast, Ramesses II in the thirteenth cent ury not only mentions Moab in a topographical list but also depicts himself warring j,l Moab, and capturing five named forts . In the original texts (later written over in palimpsest), the first was named as Butartu "in the land of Moab"; the second, "Yan(?)d[ . . . 1 in the mountain of Mararuna"; the th ird as D ibon; while the fourth and fifth are lost (although there are traces for the fifth). The reading of Dibon is beyond doubt, and is clinched by the immediate context of Moab with Butartu, for which Moabite locales seem clear. In each case the Egyptian text calls each place a dllli, or settlement, a term with which the "foreign fort" representation agrees in each case. In other words, our explicit, firsthand inscriptional evidence shows, blu ntly, that there was a place Dibon in Moab in about 1270. The archaeology is badly incomplete (as it currently stands), and stands supplemented and corrected by the texts, as in other clear cases (e.g., Jerusalem). So, Dibon in Numbers (21:30; 32 :2-3, 34; 33:45- 46) is correct for the thirteenth century.99 Cf. fig. 35. Heshbon, seat of King 5ihon, has also been queried, because Tell Hesban shows (at present) clear urban occupation from the twelfth century onward (lron I, stratum 19), but not Late Bronze II before it. Some Late Bronze sherds


have been reported, so there may have been something thereabouts. However, if Tell Hesban was Heshbon during the Iron Age, that is no guarantee that it had been so in the Bronze Age. The Bronze Age Heshbon may in fact have been one of the nearby sites such as Tell el-/alul or Tell el-Umeiri. Time will tell. 1oo By contrast, at Medeba the ancient remains are not yet fully explored; but two tombs of the Late Bronze II period are known, so indicating some kind of human presence then. 101

(b) Political Formats Without the slightest hesitation, the biblical texts identify Edam, Moab, south Gilead, and Bashan as local monarchies, and name the kings of the last two (Sihon, Og), as the Hebrews did battle with these. For Edam and Moab in particular, skeptical voices have been raised, and likewise against all other kings of Moab prior to Mesha and his father (840 B.C.) on Mesha's own monument, and agai nst all kings of Edam until the eighth century (mentions in Assyrian texts, then local seals) . But the objections are based on modern sociological/anthropological fallacies and theories of ancient statehood that are irrelevant to the ancient Near East, besides the old nineteenth-century antibiblical mind -set. The idea is promoted that a monarchy cannot exist in a land prior to sedentarization of the working populace (land-tillers), urbanization (cities dominating society), and material display (monumental buildings, luxury wares). But all this, frankly, is poppycock. The Assyrian king list opens with a whole section of "17 kings who lived in tents" for the early second millennium. 102 No toiling peasants on landed estates here; no whisper of urbanization here; no trace of fine buildings or luxury wares here . These men were in effect sheikhs of the steppe, in the region of Ashur, Assyria's eventual capital. At the same general period, we have the phenomenon of city-based rulers in Babylonia paralleled by nonsedentary, noncity rulers in the same area - so the kings of Kish in alliance with the nonurban kings of Manana. IOJ The Egyptian Execration Texts show multiple rulers in one place at th is general period also. In fact, Egypt's earliest state (First-Second Dynasties) was a set of agro-pastoral communities based on small local townships and villages that owed allegiance in two zones (Delta, Nile Valley) to one overall head from one of these, the pharaoh .1 04 There were no mass urban sites then, and no greaT monuments excepT some brick tombs up in the desert fringes. None of this would su it the grandiose criteria of the theorists, but nobody in their senses can possibly deny that the Egyptian monarchy was not a proper state, even at its beginnings. Thus there is no valid reason whatsoever to deny the TiTle of king to rulers

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so termed by either Near Eastern documents or the biblical writers . TlTey were t here, then; we (and our fantasizing sociologists) were not! A series of tribes having ancestral or other links in common, in a common habitat, might well have a sim pIe three-tier government: each tribe having its elders and leader, the main tribal leaders serving as an assembly, and one of their number (in hereditary or electoral succession) at their head as "king" over the whole. That is certainly what should be posited for almost purely pastoral Edom before the ninth/eighth century, and largely for Moab (and Ammon, no doubt), plus agricultural, farm - or village-based communities likewise. 105 If indeed the Balu'a stela does date to the thirteenth/twe lfth century (as its art has been "read"), then we wou ld have evidence for a monumental royal piece, imitating Egyptian fashion in Moab; butthis cannot be treated as a certainty.l06 [n short, there is 110 respectable evidence whatsoever for denying the title "king" to any of those people repo rted in our sources, biblical or otherwise.

(v) Going Places: Itinerar ies These are digests of routes from one place to another that pass through a series of intermediate stopping places, sometimes including travel times, or brief notices about events en route, in t he course of particular journeys. Numbers 3P-49 provides us with a good example. We are told that Moses had kept such a record, which was used by the writer of Num. 33:1-49. Such records were compiled throughout antiquity. Already in the eighteenth century we have the so-called Old Babylon ian itinerary that ran from Mesopotamia up to north Syrian Emar, including the number of nights spent at each stop.l07 In contemporary MaTi, Yasmah-Adad was told by his father Shamshi -Adad I of Assyria what stages and stops he would follow to visit him. lOS Almost a millennium later, the campaign records of the ninth-century Assyrian monarchs Tukult i-Ninurta II and Assurnasirpal II include itinerary segments. 109 Over in Egypt, the war texts of Egypt's New Kingdom pharaohs (fifteenth -thirteenth centuries) were clearly based on campaign daybooks (as in the Annals of Tuthmosis [I I). A variant of the species is the ship's log, a daybook travel itinerary kept on water. From Egypt we have two. One is of Year 52 ofRamesses II (ca. 1228, close in date to our Hebrews), giving the day-by-day record of the journey and leisurely stops of the ship of Prince Khaemwaset, fourt h son ofthat king, from Pi-Ramesse (biblical Raamses) in the East Delta up to Memphis, the traditional capital of Egypt. The other is of the reign of either Ramesses VI or V[ I in the Twentieth Dynasty (ca. 1140 or 1130), being the log of a vessel sailing from Heliopolis to Memphis and southward (with long stops), and ending with accounts.ll0 Back on land, we have segments of itin'97


eraries in Canaan, also under Ramesses [I, in Papyrus Anastasi 1.111 And several of the great Egyptian topographical lists of foreign towns in Canaan contain seguences of places evidently derived from itineraries.112 So Num . 33 is no isolated case, 113 and is part of a tradition that began at least half a millennium before, and continued down to Roman times, and is known till today.

(vi) Early Israelite Settlement East of the Jordan

Until recent times the area in Transjordan from the Mishor plain north to Bashan seemed to show very little clear evidence of any history of settlement in Late Bronzellron I of the thirteenth and twelfth centuries, the theater and period of the initial settlement there by the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh as seen in Num. 32, Deut. 3:12 -20, and losh. 12:1 -6, 13:8 -32. But now intensive survey and study has provided a clearer picture of the situation. First, a series of sites in this overall area show Late Bronze II into [ron IA phases of occupation. Moving from south to north (beginning in the Mishor tableland), Tell el-Umeiri was occupied in Late Bronze, and was enclosed with a casemate wall in Iron I (twelfth century), with pillared houses and use of collared -rim jars. At Tell lalul, a Late Bronze phase gave way to an Iron I settlement (more collared-rim jars) that was thereafter dest royed. At Tell Hesban, Late Bronze is structurally absent, only some possible sherds being found to date; in Iron [ it became a village (again collared-rim jars were characteristic). Sahab was a walled town in Late Bronze IJ, directly followed by Iron I occupation. Amman had limited Late Bronze/Iron I occupation materials (so far); its heyday came later. Going farther north, Tell Safut was also a Late Bronze [I walled settlement that passed directly into [ron I ( more collared-rim jars), being burned later on. Iraq el-Amir (stratum V) was an eleventh-century Iron [ fort, also with coHared - rim jars, then destroyed and abandoned. At Khirbet Umm -el -Dananir, a Late Bronze IIA building went on into Iron lA, with abandonment in the twelfth century. Going north of the labbok River (Wadi Zerqa), lerash had a Late Bronze occupation and then [ron I (two floor levels, burnt destruction; collared -rim jars in Iron I), seemingly destroyed violently. Tell Husn showed material from the Late Bronze II, Iron I and II periods, as did Abila. At Tell Fukhar, up by the Yarmuk River, a Late Bronze [IA site became a larger [ron I settlement, walled, and using collared -rim jars, then declining later.lI4 The four-room -house type is also attested in these east -of-Jordan sites, sometimes with collared -rim jars. li S Such are Tell Umeiri in the south, Tell el -Fukhar in the north, besides such houses in Moabite sites (L::hun, Medeinet Aliya). The overall picture in the Mishor plain, Gilead, and up into Bashan is one

Humble Beginni1lgs -

arou1ld and ill Canaan

of a series of Late Bronze II settlements, some modest, some walled, which passed over into the Iron IA phase of occupation that showed new cultural feat ures such as collared -rim jars, four - roomed hOllses, or both together. These features are 110t a guarantee of an Israelite presence, but it remains true that these are characteristic of the [sraelite settlement in Canaan. 116 All this is fully consistent with the biblical tradition that the Hebrews came north from the fringes of Moab proper (south of the Arnon) to the Mishor plains, and defeated the two minor Amorite kingdoms ofSihon and Og that occupied Mishor/south Gilead and north Gilead into Bashan respectively. The Mishor and environs were a prime sheep-rearing region, as our geographers can still tell us, hence the very natural request of Reuben and Gad to stay on in that area (Num. 32). In due time, old rivalries and new between Moab, the Israelites, and Ammon broke out, especially over who should have the Mishor area. Sihon had taken it from Moab (who earlier had it, as Ramesses II's scenes prove, including Dibon with Butartu in Moab). Then Israel took it from Sihon, and Moab later took it back, and the seesaw wen t on . Scarce wonder that some Iron IA sites ended up being destroyed and burned, some never to rise again, either permanently or else not until well into Iron [I times . Thus, whatever minor gaps currently appear in our total documentation (so for Heshbon, as at Jericho!), the overall picture in Numbers/Deuteronomy/Joshua makes very good sense, and fits well the known archaeological and related context. However, Israel d id not originate on the desert fringe of Moab, but further back. As we shall see in chapter 6, Egypt and south Sinai have claims here,ll7 and in such a context our earlier review from Qadesh-Barnea to the plains of Moab indicates the straightforwllrd fells ibility of t hat phase of tribal Isrllel's story without presuming to prove it.


Or rather, governed. Now we can return back over Jordan into Clltlaan, where we left early Israel at about 1220/1210, under its "elders," heirs of JOShUll. Thereafter, early [srael was increasingly in t rouble, first from a brush with troops of Merenptah just before his fifth year (1209), and second in their relationships with theiT immediate neighbors from then down to almost 1000. First, we may look at the biblical data for that period, contained for the most part in the book of Judges and in I Sam. 1- 7. Then we may see how (if at all) they fit into this epoch. Finally we may examine the relevant cultu ral and archaeological materials for this same period .



First, a concise tabulation of the layout and basic contents of the book of Judges provides a convenient framework with which to compare the two next sections, before examining what may be the underlying chronology, and as a setting for the archaeological and allied cultural data . Table
II .

Book of Judges, Outline and Layout

Attempting Settlement (1:1 -36; cf. 2:6 -9)

I. After tile Death of JOS/lua -

(a ) JI.da/l arid Simeon (1:2-20) .

Success at BeJ'q; jerusalem raided, to rched, but not held; successes in Negev. Othniel and Achsah (]:11 -15 = Josh . 1;:J <1 -19); Keniks move into Negev. Possible raid on Gaza, Ascalon, and Ekron, but nothing more there. Summary: Judah effect ive in hills but not against chariotry in the plains. (b) Bwjamin ( 1:21 ). Failed to take /erllsalcm; jebllsites stayed on. Central
(a) "Josepll" (Ep hmim and


Manllsseh ) (l:22-29) .

'look Betllel finally; but not Ge7T or DOT and Jezreel tow" ns (still Canaanite). Danites blocked into hills by Amorites (failure, like Gezer and Jczred ). North
Zebl.lolI, AS/ler, Nap/aafi could only settle al ongside Canaanites (1:30-33 ).

Co nseq uences of compromise. No easy penetration henceforth (l:i -6 ).

2. Flashback, Dec/elIsion, and Resultant Paradigm (2:6- 3:6) (a) JOS/IUII ami Elders. Start of possession, but not by Joshua (2:6-9,23). (b) A ccu/rurtJliolJ, breach of COWnallt, defeat (3 :1 -6) . (c) Cycliwl Paradigm. Disobedience, Punishment , Contrition, Deliverance (then Relapse) - OpeD (+ R).118
3. Narmtil'c f:.xpose of Isra el's Decline during Selt/emf'llt Period (3 :8 - 16:31)

"Major" }I,dges (+ DPCD)

"Millor" II.dges





Otllllie! (p - ll ) OpeD vs. Kushan -rishathaim of Aram -N

3. Shumgllr (3:31 )

z. EJwd (p2-30) DPCD vs. Eglon of Moab

(No. 3 here )

null DPCD

vs. Philistines



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arou1ld and ill Canaan

4AIB. Buml.: alld Debomh ( 4- . ' ) OpeD \'s. jabill II of I-Iazor/Canaall N

5NB. Gideon (6- 8) OpeD I's. Midianites (Abimdech at Shechem oilly

(9), null )

6. Tola ( 10:1 -2) null; I'S. null 7. fair (10:3-5) null OpeD I'S. null

(nos. 6 -7 here)
8. lephllwll (10:6- 12:7 ) OpeD I's. Ammo n

10. ElOII

9.1/1;:1111 (1l:81O) n ull OpeD vs. null ( 12:11'12) null OpeD vs. null

(nos. 9-11 hcre)

12 . Samsoll ( 13- 16) DePD vs. Philistincs

n . Abdon (12:13 -15) null OpeD, null


4. Exemplary Episodes -

Idolatry alld Slrife( 17- 18; 19- 21)

0 ) Net Results of Segment

The panorama is as follows: a north-te-south series of attempts at real conquest

by Judah with Simeon: in the north, SLlccess in Bezeq; in the center, failure to se

cure Jerusalem; in the south, gains in Hebron/Debir zone and in the Negev. Ephraim/Manasseh ("Joseph") final ly secured Bethel, but fa iled against Gezer, Dor, and Jezreel, merely settling in with the locals. Up north Asher, Zebulon, and Naphtali failed almost entirely to obtain eftective occupancy, again settling in with the locals. Finally, Dan failed to expand from its hill-country base westward, and was contained by local opposition, so in due course (chap. 18) some of its members migrated north to Laish.

(ii ) Net Results of Segment 3 What is significant is that, otherwise, the book has 110 more to sayabout the evidently slow process of the Hebrew settlement in the period before the monarchy. The writer instead concentrates mainly on the major crises of (in effect) local rivals inside Canaan (in Galilee, the Philistines) or adjoining it (Moab, Midian, Ammon); only the exotic Kushan- rishathaim comes from afar. Thus we have six such crises dealt with in terms of the author's main theme (OpeD + R) . Among the so-called minor judges, only one (Shamgar, ):31) actually hits out at the opposition; the other five are shown briefly as (in effect) simply local


regional rulers. Of these, the first alone (Tola, 10:1-2) is said to be a deliverer of Israel, but no details are given; the other four (10:3-5; 12:8-15) simply governed locally, in Gilead, Bethlehem (north Judah), Zebulon, and Ephraim, without any report of major conflicts. Our so -called major judges also served quite locally ( Hebron, Benjamin; woman near Bethel plus man from Naphtali; villager in West Manasseh; man in Gilead, and one in [original ] Dan). This fact will be of importance, just presently. The only difference between the "major" and "minor" judges is that the former are reported on in some detail, for their role as (in the ancient author's eyes) divinely commissioned deliverers for Israel locally and sometimes more widely. The twelve to fourteen people presented (fourteen with Deborah as well as Barak, plus the local renegade Abimelech) were certainly not the whole of [srael's local bigwigs between Joshua and Saul's reign, but merely a selection (6 + 6) the author had record of and chose for his theme. Historically there were un doubtedly more, as local tribal leaders of whom we know nothing. Finally, the contribution of 1 Sam. 1- 7. In essence, this narrative centers on the origin and career of Samuel, down to that fatal day when Israel asked for a king "just like everybody else" (cf. 1 Sam. 8). With Saul's checkered reign, the period of the "judges" was over.


(0 The Basic Situation

In this age of impatience, many are tempted simply to read directly through the book of Judges as a continuous narrative, and hence as a narrative of continuous history, especially when the text sometimes says of a "judge" that "after him" ruled another in turn. The narrative is indeed largely continuous, but the underlying history not needfully so. The last five chapters (17-21) are not directly tied to any succession . Only in 18:30, if one reads "Moses," not "Manasseh," as grandfather of Gershom, chaplain to the Danites, may we infer that this narrative would at latest fall in the first part of the twelfth century, well before most of the narratives that precede it. In fact, only a limited number of "after him" phrases link successive judges, leaving open the option that some may have served as contemporaries in different districts of Canaan. This possibility becomes in effect a certainty if one goes through the date lines betwen the exodus and the fourth year of Solomon, the year he began building his temple, "in the 480th year" since the exodus (1 Kings 6: I), we are told. Thus, if that year fell circa 967 (cf. dates in chaps . 2

Humble Beginni1lgs -

arou1ld and ill Canaan

and 4 above), a literal add ing up would set the exodus in 1447. But if we take the t rouble actually to tote up all the individual figures known from Exodus to Kings in that period, they do not add up to 480 years. But rather to 554 + x + y + zyears, where x = unknown length of rule by Joshua and the elders (minimum, 5/10 years?), y = rule by Samuel above his stated 20 years (possibly zero), and z = the full reign of Saul (minimum, 1312 years).119 The total comes to between 35 and 42 years at least, bringing the 554 years to a minimal 591/596 years. This is certainly not identical with the 480 years of 1 Kings 6:\. If the two figures are to be meaning fully related to each other, overlaps of contemporary local chiefs are required in the book of Judges, a fact universally admitted whatever interp retation is placed on the 480-year datum. If taken seriously, this latter may itself be viewed in anyone of three ways: literally as some do; as 12 x 40 years (12 "generation spans"); or as a figure selected on some unstated principle from the ultimate 554 up to 591/596 years. But without overlaps, 591/596 does not go into 480. For the 480 years datum, cf. also below in chapter 6. If one has a lower date for the exodus than 1447, say a minimum date of about 1260/1 250, then the interval of elapsed real time down to Solomon's fourth year in 967 beco mes about 293/283 years, into which the 591/596 years would then be subsumed (besides the 480 -year figure). Is such a procedure an anomaly without parallel? Is it even a practical proposition, even if not anomalous? The answer in the first case is no, it is not an isolated anomaly, and in the second case, yes, if we apply ancient (not modern) procedures and consider the biblical data carefully. Let us see both points in practice.

(ii) Judges as an " Intermed iate Period" in Hebrew History

In the biblical world, mu ltiple rulers in a land or community where sale rulers would be the norm are a familiar phenomenon, usually in "intermediate" periods between times of unity and (often) achievem ent. The most fam iliar example is Egypt, with three sllch periods of internal division: one (late third millennium) between the Old Kingdom (Pyramid Age) and Middle Kingdom, another (Thirteenth-Seventeenth Dynasties, early second millennium) between the Middle and New Kingdoms, and another (early first millennium) between the New Kingdom and the Sa ite revival period. In Mesopotamia, best known is the so-called second intermediate period of rival city-states in the Isin-Larsa/Old Babylonian period of the early second millennium, with rival dynasties. In these cases, the Egyptian and Mesopotamian king lists simply list the various dynasties (and their years reigned) in succession, without giving overlaps. But in every


case, overlaps are known from other sources of information . The period of the "judges"was likewise a time of Hebrew d isunity, after the unitary rule of the two leaders Moses and Joshua and brief committee rule of t he elders, and before the renewed unity of the united monarchy of Saul, David, and Solomon . As for the principle of 591/596 years within a time lapse of 2931283 years, suffice it briefly to exemplify this situation from Egypt and Mesopotamia. Of the Thirteenth to Seventeent h Dynasties, the full Thirteenth (Manetho's 60 kings at 153 years) had at least 50 kings reigning about 150 years; t he Fourteenth has 76 kings for 184 years in Manetho, many being listed in the Turin Canon of Kings (which is damaged, hence incomplete). The Fifteenth, Hyksos, Dynasty was of 6 kings for 108 years; the Sixteenth possibly of only local princelings, no clea r data; the (Theban) full Seventeenth of some 21 kings of 90/96 years. This total is about 508 years (excluding the not -calculatable Sixteenth Dynasty). But this grand total has to fit betwen the dates of close on 1795 (end of Twelfth Dynasty) and either 1550 or 1540 (start of Eig hteenth Dynasty), a maximum of 245 or 255 years.l2O This is the same situation, exactly, as with the exodus-to -ea rl ySolomon epoch of 5911596 years going into 293/283 years. In Mesopotamia, su ffice it to list the First Dynasty of Isin (125 kings, 224 years), plus the Larsa Dynasty (1 4 kings, 263 years), and the First Dynasty of Babylon (ll kings, 300 years) between t he fall of the Third Dynasty of Ur and that of the First Dynasty of Babylon . These three dynasties total 787 years, but have to go into 410 years on the common ly used "middle" dates (higher and lower would not affect this point); this again is the same phenomenon as in Egypt and early Israel. I21 So here we have no anomaly whatsoever in Judges.

(iii) A Practical " Intermediate Period" Chronology for the Judges Period
Here we will seek to build up a minimal chronology (the only safe kind until we know better), step by step. If all that appears in Judges and 1 Samuel (people, events, and figures) were but fiction, then there is no point in this exercise. But if they should, perchance, have preserved a deposit of reliable tradition, then the exercise is wo rthwhile, to see what may come of it . In so doing we are bound to lise the same approach that schola rs normally adopt in Egyptology, Assy riology, etc., in using fi rsthand sources so far as possible (not available fo r Judges), and also the data of king lists and later historical reports, which is a method we can operate with Judges. When this is done (as for Egypt and Mesopotamia), and "precise" figures are used, such as a traditional "twenty-three years" for a king, then of cou rse the totting up of such figures gives misleadingly

Humble Beginni1lgs -

arou1ld and ill Canaan

"exact" dates. Nobody in the world ca n prove that the twenty-three years given us for King Kheops (who built the Great Pyramid) actually occurred from precisely 2593 to precisely 2570, or that the five kings of Mesopotamia's Third Dynasty of Ur reigned exactly during 21"12 - 2004. The individual figures for reigns or rule may be correct, but factors of doubt in succeeding periods may mean that the figures given as years H.C. are subject to change, if fresh facts should so demand . Exactly the same procedure will be used here; the figures given in ludges and I Samuel will be used (just as we do elsewhere in the biblical world) and assigned calculated "dates H.C."; but such dates are subject to revision, despite their apparent "exactness," shollid other facts so require. We now tabulate people, data, and numbers step by step. We do this first in terms of geographical zones in west and east Palestine in which these judges held sway (table 12, below); second, in terms of explicit sequwces of judges given by 3, on p. 206); and third, via a combination of place the text, "after him ..." (table 1 and time, adding in oppressions and numbers mentioned (table 14, on p. 206). Then the attribution of formal dates can be attempted (see table ]5, on p. 207). Given that we have a minimum span of 170/160 yea rs for the known judges, prophets, and priests between about 1210/1200 and ]042 (when Saul took over), it is obvious from table ]2 that those agents mentioned in the book of Judges plus ] Sam. ]- 7 cannot have been the total of all the local rulers ("judges" or tribal) that actually flourished throughout the period . It is simply a selection made by the author of Judges from a fuller tradit ion not now available to us. The persons in parentheses are of people clearly later than anyone above them, from contexts. The sequences explicitly given in Judges often do not coincide with geographical localities. Clearly, what occurred was that a local man in one area achieved wider recognition than just on his home patch, or else his passing coincided with someone else's rise to at least modest prominence.

Table 12. Zones in Which "Judges" Are Said to Have Operated

SW and W Philistia S: Judah & Negev Othnirl Shamgar Qn\er-E Benjamin [h ud Deborah Gideon & (Abimdik) [Iron Center Ephraim
N -Cen]er


Gali lee N areas

E. aCrOSS Jordan

+ Ba ra k
lair kphth ah

+ Tola
Ibzan Samson Samuel' s
so n~

Abdon, Samud


Table 13. Expl.icit Sequences of Judges and Related People

Othnkl (lbzan) (so ns of Samuel) Ehud Shaillgar Debo mh + Bamk Gideon Abilllelek To la /ephthah lbzan Eloll Abdo n



Table 14. Combined Regions and Sequences of Judges plus Oppressors, with Figures
So uth SWand W Phi ls, Dan
PhJ;.tin" x

Cente r E Q>n ler Benjamin

Eglon ,& EHUD x
So yr< p<aa

No rth N Center Manaueh Galilee, N areas

East E,anon Jordan

S: Judah & Negev

K~,J,dn R &

Q>nter Ephraim

OTH ",IL40

Jdb,n 1/ :tO

40 Y"

+ BARA K x

Mod"", i GIDEON 40 (Abimelek J)


I ::.mtwn 1& EPHTHAH 6

IBZt' 7

ELON ,0 ABDO'" & /I II Ell,., (SAMUEL)

SAMSON 20 PhJi$tin",

Son'or SA.\IUEL x



The judges and allied prophets ( Deborah, Ba rak) and priests (Eli) in Table 14 are shown in capital letters. Names of oppressors are in italics. To save space, numbers are given without the word "years" except in two cases. Where no year lengths were given, the cipher x has been entered. It now remains to tu rn this "rela tive chronology" into an approximate min im al chronology in terms of years B.C . Israel is mentioned as in Canaan by Merenptah in his fifth year in 1209 at latest, giving a rounded minimum benchmark of circa 1210. So Joshua, Moses, the wilderness years, and the exodus are all prior to that date; in theo ry, Joshua might also have been a contemporary of

Humble Beginni1lgs -

arou1ld and ill Ca naan

Table 15. A Provisional Scheme of Dates for the Epoch of the Judges
SWand W Phih, Dan
D.n;tes to N

E Center Benjamin
Ego," ,8

N Center ManaJ$I'h Galilee, N areas

E, across Jordan

S, Judah & Negev

K~';'a" R

Center Ephraim

c . "901801 Phil;',;"" x SHA.\lGAR x



EHUD x ", J


SO yr< p.. co

Ja/li" 11 ><>
,,80-,,60 DEBORAH x
to . "65- ,,~1 40 yr> pe.a

---------- .-_.

+ BARA K x
tI . "65- "~



(ANmdek ,) (,,;)9 . ,,)6) TOLA'l lAIR"




'-\mm.mlg '09'-1(7)


ELaN 10


Phil;,,;,,,,, 40

"""'-1060 SN>ISON ,0 1<>80-,060


ASOON 3 11

Son, of
SA.\!uEL x (co . lOiS) SAMUEL ><>






Merenptah's forces' very brief intrusion, and the elders might have followed him_ The absolutely minimal dates for the exodus and wilderness forty years (38 + 2) are between 1260/1250 and 1220/1210. An average at 1255-1215 would then give us 1215-1200 for Joshua and the elders. Thus we may for convenience begin the judges period proper at about 1200, so far as minimal dating is concerned. If as noted in chapter 4 above, p. 83 and table7,Saul be given [312 years circa 10421010 prior to David, then we have two approximate minimum end points some 168 years apart for the judges of Judges and I Sam. 1 - 7. Within this period we have another useful constraint. The first major Philistine impact (and settlement) in Canaan came as part of the invasion of the Sea Peoples halted by Ramesses III in his eight h year. This can be dated to either 1180 or 3 years later at 1177, depending on whether the short -lived pharaoh Amenmesses actually reigned as sole king for 3 years between Merenptah and Sethos II or was a rebel in southern Egypt, wholly within the 6-year reign of Sethos II - an undecided


matter. This means that Sham gar's brush with the Philistines would fall after ll8o/lI77, as would Deborah's public career. On the other hand, Othnie! was a son of Caleb, lashua's companion in arms, and should not be pushed too far down after 1200 . See further after table 15. From table 14 we have the sequence of "recognized" judges back from Abdon to lephthah. Eli was 1I0t a tribal judge but a Levitical priest at the (post)tabernade sanctuary at Shiloh . And Samuel, his spiritual successor, was a prophet and kept normally to the very narrow circuit of Bethel, Gilgal, Mizpah, and home to Ramah (I Sam. 7:15-16), where people might consult him. Thus the last -named tribal judge, Abdon, may have been his nonreligious contemporary, whose role was in practice supplanted by the monarchy of Saul (who replaced all "judges") . Hence we have here dated the sequence from Abdon back to Iephthah as from Saul's accession . Before Iephthah one must surely set not only the Ammonites he defeated but also the peaceful lair, and then before him Tola and Abimelech and finally Gideon. That is as far as the direct series of links al lows us to go. Hence the dotted line across the midd le of tables 14 to 16. Under Samuel and Saul the Philisti nes were said to have been kept at bay (cf. 1 Sam. n3), which is substantially borne out by t he outcome of Philistine/ Israelite clashes during Samuel's lifetime (cf. I Sam. 14; 17- IS; 2):1 -5; 23:27- 24: I). The twenty years for Samuel before Saul's accession is, strictly, the period of the ark's stay at Kiriath-Jearim between the death of Eli and the accession of Saul (7=2ff.). That he "continued as a judge in [srae!" all his life until his death (7:15) occurred during the reign of Saul, under whom he died (cf. 25:1) . Before Sam uel's time of office, the Philistines were oppressive, certainly in the west/southwest, and Samson's isolated fight against them probably fell in the second half oflhat period, if he was born early in it: hence our dates. Before him we have no earl ier report of events in the west/southwest since Shamgar, datable to after the arrival of the historic Philistines (Pilasti of Egyptian texts). At least some Danites migrated north to Laish (which they renamed Dan; Iudg. 18), possibly with a (younger?) grandson of Moses as their priest, which would favor a date early in the twelfth century for such an event. Going back to the start of our period, Othniel and his Aramean foe appear to begin the sequence: on Kushan -rishathaim, see section 6 below, with the Moabites causing longer trouble for his Benjaminite younger contemporary Ehud . Shamgar is placed after Ehud's death (an undated event, as Ehud's time span is not given). And both Ehud and Shamgar precede the exploits of Deborah and Barak. So, that pair against Iabin II would (like Sham gar) postdate the initial settlement of the Philisti nes of I ISOIt 177. Thus we allow about 1180 -1160 for Iabin II's twenty years unti l Deborah's success. Associated with Ehud and Deborah are long general periods of peace, of eighty and forty years

Humble Beginni1lgs -

arou1ld and ill Canaan

respectively. These are probably rou nd figures, and the literal dating of them in table 15 serves merely to indicate two such differing broad stretches of time. Gideon's problems with Midian out east may have been roughly contemporary with labin 11 up north,and not unco n nected with Moab well to Gideon's south . But, again, the "forty years of peace" given for "the days of Gideon" (Judg. 8:28) may well be a rOllnd figure closer to thirty years or so, which would lower the date of him and his Midianites somewhat. One datum not in table 15 is /ephthah's boast to the king of Ammon, that Israel had occupied the Mishor region east of the Jordan fo r 300 years (judg. 11 :26). At roughly 1070 (the 1073 of our table 15), that would place that occupation at about 1370, which in itself makes no sense whatsoever on any current date of the exodus 40 years before, whether in 1447, 1260/1250, or any time in between. Brave fellow that he was, lephthah was a roughneck, an outcast, and not exactly the kind of man who would scruple first to take a Ph.D. in local chronology at some ancient university of the Yarmuk before making strident claims to the Ammonite ruler. WhM we have is nothing more than the report of a brave but ignorant man's bold bluster in favo r of his people, not a mathematically precise chronological datum . So it can offer llS no pract ical help. It is in the same class as other statements that biblical writers may wel l report accurately but which they would not necessarily expect readers to believe - as in the speeches of Job's comforters, or even by Job himself, in extremis, for example. The propaganda against YHWH by Sennacherib is a matter of clear reporting (2 Kings 18:25, 35) - but not that readers should believe it! Thus, overall, we have at last the basis for a minimal chronology for the judges period. For more modest needs and for archaeological purposes, it may be fi tt ing to provide, fi nally, a generalized chronological summary, avoiding the hyperprecise dates of t he ambitious! Table 16 (on p. 210) is intended to serve as a wiser, more modest derivative of the formal dates given in table 15, for general purposes. In its close, formal "exactness," table 15 will serve as a sharpening stone for others to sharpen their knives upon and perhaps produce something better, at some fu t ure date!


Here we present external background and control material (as with Joshua and part of Numbers earlier) to help in assessing the biblical view and presentation of this period, between Moses and the Hebrew monarchy.



Table 16. Broad Summary Chronol ogy, Period of the Judges

So ulh SWand W Phils, Dan
Dan N 11$01

Ce nter
E Center Benjamin
Eglen 13
EHUD" c . 11$0

No rt h
N Center Manasseh Galilee, N areas

E, across Jordan

S, Judah &
Negev KUsJoMR3
OTH ~lEl~o

Center Ephraim

PhJis'm" x
SHAMBAR x c . 11)'<>

c . 1195

yn 1'<0<0

J~bin 1/ '0

DEBORAH x c . 1160

+ BARA K x
Ca. ,,60





4" yr< p"o<e

; GIDEON ",0 <t. 11;015 (Abimelck J)


....... .......

TOLA '3 <t . 10'S lAIR" ca. 1100


.~,nmQn \3
IEPHl"I!AH 6 Ca. ,,,),<> !BUN 7 c. 107"
Phil;mnN~o ABDO~

ELON 1O <t. ,060

3 II

$A.\ISON '" ca . 1070

Son. of
SA.\ !uEL x <t . l-l5 SAMUEL '" W" '0-l'


ca . '050 II ELI 40 <t . I1O'' ''o6o (SA:-'IUEL)


(a) Goitlgfrom Dati to Dati

In ludg. 1:34 we Jearn that the Danites were hemmed in within the hills by the local Amorites, who did not want them "downstairs" in their own lusher valleys and lowlands. Thus it is no surprise to read near the dose of the book that (quite early on) some Danites gave up and decided to try their luck elsewhere, way up north (ludg. 18; and cf. brief summary, Josh. 19:47), where they took the waJled town of L1ish, renam ing it Dan. As they took with them a Levite who was possibly a grandson of Moses (judg. 18:30), this event wou ld not be any later than the firs t decades of the twelfth century, as we have seen.

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Laish/Dan can be firmly located at the modern Tell el-Qadi by the headwaters of the river jorda n, and its archaeological profile reveals the former existence in the thirteenth century of a prosperous and cosmopolitan Canaanite city (level VilA) that was destroyed around roughly 1200, it having pottery in part transitional in type between Late Bronze II and Iron IA. The next level (VI) showed a different way of life, a mere encampment with storage pits and food storage vessels of strictly local ware (no exotic Mediterranean imports here) . This is all very reminiscent of the Judges narrative, with the early Danites taking the town, destroying it and resettling there. We are told that they rebuilt the town. The destruction traces of level VIlA and the encampment-style occupation of level VI were du ly succeeded in level V by a proper town, of the same style of (Israelite) material culture but developing . And imports began again : a modest flow of Phoenician and Philistine wares (pretty luxuries!) can be found among the remains then. So here we have an archaeological illustration of, and commentary on, the data in josh. 19:47 and especially ludg. 18. Nor is this all . From the archaeology we ca n add a little to the city Dan's eventful history. The Da niles had captured and destroyed the Canaanite town . But in the mid~eleventh century their own nice little town su ffered violent destruction and burning; half a meter thickness of debris tells its own tale. "Who dunnit?" The Philistine attack on Israel that induded the destruction of the shrine at Shiloh (cf. jer. T12-14) can be dated around 1060, and it is conceivable that they struck farther north still; or, the nearby Arameans or other locals took their chance. Either way, the Danites rebuilt their town (level IV) and lived to see the coming of the Hebrew mon archy.122 If the narratives in Judges and Joshua about Dan were born purely from some late writer's romantic imaginat ion, how come so consistent a correlation emerges between t he "tales" and the archaeological sequence if they were separated by many centuries? Otherwise so fortuitous a coincidence partakes of the miraculous. It is easier to accept that the "tales" contain a basic history, faithfully transmitted via these books, either themselves written quite early or else written later but drawing upon earlier source data. Culturally the use of house cults of paganizing type among the early Hebrews may find its analogies in finds elsewhere, as possibly with a suggested altar stone and stela stone recently found in a house across the Jordan farther south at Tell UmeirL m

(b) Kushan Who ? Yes, Rishathaim!

The first mentioned of early Israel's oppressors is also the most exotic and distant one. In ludg. ):8-11 we are told that Othniel was raised up to free the He-


brews from the overlords hip of "Kushan Rishathaim, King of Aram Naharaim."124 As Othniel was given as a son of Caleb (the fel low spy with Joshua, Num . 13:6, 8; 14:38), any such incident, as with Dan, would have to be set not later than the early twelfth century. Like virtually every other oppressor named in Judges, he is not mentioned in contemporary records, and for the same simple reason; there are none of a relevant type that would do so. As Kushan recurs as a place-name anciently (as Kushu) synonymous with Edom, some have sought to emend Aram-Naharaim to Edam, omitting the second element. This is gratuitous, especially as Edom is not known ever to have dominated IsraellJudah, and perhaps unlikely while simply a "tented kingdom" mainly of pastoralists. The second half of the name has always been an enigma, and in its given form can be construed as a pejorative epithet, so "Kushan of the double wickedness." But nobody of himself ever adopts such a surname or title, and it is clearly a play on a more meaningful form - as is Ishbosheth for Ishbaal in the name of Saul's son who fo llowed him. Aram -Naharaim is the terrain within the great west bend of the Euphrates. In the thirteenth century it was part of the former kingdom of MitanniHanigalbat, which was taken from the Hittites by the Assyrians, and kept by them down to Tukulti-Ninurla I (1245 -1208). But in his lasl years onward and under weak successors,125 the Akhlamu Arameans and others quietly look over this western part. The name of Aram as a region in north-central Syria (close to Amurru?) first appears under Amenophis III of Egypt (fourteenth century), and then under Merenptah (1213-120J).126 SO Aram here is no surprise. Other com mentators have suggested read ing risha'thayim as resh, "head/chief," plus a place- name, most simply as an "Athaim, giving us "Kushan, Chief of "Athaim"127 as well as "King of Aram-Naharaim ." He is most likely to be regarded as a "new man," an Aramean adventurer who based himself on some town ('Athaim) in the west bend area not yet known to us and bedecked himself with the pompous title of king of Aram -Naharaim. After securing himself a power base in the area that became Bit -Adini two hundred years later,128 he would have begun to raid southward, reaching at least northern Canaan . Again, two hundred years later, Hadadezer of Aram-Zobah had no hesitation in subduing Hamath and intervening equally far south on Ammon's behalf. Kushan's power was briefer and more ephemeral than Hadadezer's, so we calch just a glimpse of the kind of ambitious adventurer that sought to fill a local vacuum and then exploit any wider opportunities.

Humble Beginni1lgs (c) JabinlI, King o/ Canaan

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Much head scratching has also been devoted to this local monarch, adversary of Deborah in Judg . 4-5. Too often he has been needlessly confused with the Jabin (I) dispatched by Joshua. But there are good reasons to keep them apart. As mentioned already, it is very common to find royal names recurring repeatedly in Levantine and other dynasties in the second millennium. So, as the labin (II) of Deborah must be dated sometime from n80 (she followed Shamgar, who was involved with Philistines not before that date), he would have reigned thirty or more years later than Joshua's )ab in (I) at least. By Deborah's time, of course, the great town of Hazar (both citadel and lower city) had been well destroyed and burned . So our Jabin II had lost that facility, and would have to reign from another center. This is almost certainly reflected in the biblical text. First time round, in 4:2, )abin II is "king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazar," a double appellation. Thereafter he is just once called "king of Hazar" (P7) but twice "king of Canaan" (4:23, 24). No such duality occurs in Josh . II; Hazar was "head of all those kingdoms" (= Canaan), but its king is exclusively a king of Hazar. The explanation is most likely that, after Joshua's destruction of Hazar, Jabin ['s successors had to reign from another site in Galilee but kept the style of king of the territory and kingdom of Hazar, and used mainly the wider t itle "king of Canaan" to emphasize the continuance of their former historic role . Parallels ancient and modern are not lacking . Assuruballit II, the last king of Assyria, was known by t hat title even after he had lost t he entire heartland of Assyria (never mind its capitals!) and had retreated to Harran .119 In Egypt's intermediate periods, pharaohs actual ly restricted in rule exclusively to either the north or the south conti nued to use the titles "king of south and north Egypt" and "lord of both lands." And much more recently, kings of England once also claimed the title "king of France," even after loss of rule there emptied it of any meaning. So our two labins are to be considered as two distinct rulers, for the second of whom the fall of Hazar changed his royal style.

(d) Th e Timescale 0 / M idian

The remarkable fact about Midian (and also Amalek) is its relatively short history by ancient Near Eastern standards. "Founding traditions" of descent from Abraham occur in Gen. 25:2, 4, plus a brief appearance with Joseph, Gen. 37:36 (and for two [?] Amaleks, one before Abraham and one from Esau, see Gen. 147 and 36:12). Leaving these aside, the entire history of the people of Midian


runs only from the time of Moses (Exodus-Deuteronomy) down to Gideon Oudg. 6- 8; 9:17), and for Am alek down to David's reign (cf. 2 Sam . 8:12), other than as a fugitive group in Hezekiah's day (I ehron . 4:43) . All other, later references to M idian are merely retrospective or use the name as a geographical term (so, 1 Kings 1I:18; Isa. 60:6). In other words, the history of a people of Midian involved with Canaan runs effectively from about 1300 into the twelfth century, and for Amalek down to David . For Amalek, except as closely parallel to Midian, nothing much more can be sa id. But Midian's profile closely corresponds to an archaeological profile, that of the Qurayya pottery of northwest Arabia and its prime site -of-origin there (Qurayya, whence the pottery is named), during precisely the thirteenth to twelfth centuries. no Thus, this ware has attracted the alternative title "Midianite ware ." Such identifications need to be made with care, often with reserve; but the coincidence of areas and date is a close one. During the thirteenth and early twelfth centuries the makers of Qurayya ware were involved with the Egyptian copper- mining operation at Timna on the eastern edge of Sinai, north of the Gulf of Aqaba. Their pottery was found there, associated with materials dated to the Ramesside pharaohs from Sethos [(1295!t290-1279) down to Ramesses V ( 1147-1143). After that date the Egyptians left, and for a short time the Midianites/Qurayyaites stayed around, and built their own tent shrine, leaving when a rockfall crushed it. By about 1I00 or so they were gone. And soon afterward their ma in "capital" at Qurayya and its irrigation agriculture also passed into oblivion. The probable M idian ites and their settled culture sim ply disappeared . The interest of th is set of facts is that, if the Exodus-Numbers-Deuteronomy and Judges narratives had only been first invented many centuries later (e .g., in the sixth to third centuries), nobody would ever have heard of Midianites, to be able to write stories about them . And the dependent retrospects could not have been written before Judges either. One otherwise totally obscure land name would hardly generate the narratives we possess. Thus the narrations about Midian ought to have their origin in conditions that obtained in the thirteenth and twelfth centuries, not laterthan about 1100, and in the case of Arnalek not later than the tenth century.

(e) A Tale of Two Cities

The city of Jerusalem enjoys two curious mentions very early in the book of Judges (1:8, 21), according to which the men of Judah actually broke into the city and torched it (at least in part), bu t evidently could not hold it. This is so because subsequently the Benjaminites failed to retake the town, so could not


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expel the Jebusites. These mentions are intriguing, and may hold the due to at least one archaeological feature at oldest Jerusalem. The oft-debated "steppedstone structure" built up against the northeast area of the eventual City of David is now quite dearly to be dated to the end of Late Bronze II going into Iron lA, or about ]200 or very soon after. Dl The inhabitants mllst have had good reason for engaging in the massive effort of building such a structu re, doubtless to bear extended defense works above it (destroyed by tenth -centu ry work, later on) . Once Joshua was dead and gone (late thirteenth century), and perhaps also the elders, Judah launched brief attacks on Bezeq and on Jerusalem, burning it, before concentrating on the south. This would fall around 1200 on datings offered here. At some unknown interval Benjamin attacked Jerusalem and failed. Is it too much to suppose that the Jebusite defenders of Jerusalem had, in that interval, improved their town defenses by building the stepped -stone structure (and defenses above it, now gone) and possibly other work? And so Benjamin was successfully held off? This would at least make sense, and give the structure a historical context; naturally, such a suggestion proves nothing, but may at least be considered . In the late thirteenth century Shechem (stratum XII) was a much poorer place than in Labayu's golden days over a century before. In the twelfth century the Hebrews took over, mingling with the local Canaanites (cf. the Abimelech narrative, Judg. 9), and the more built -up settlement of Shechem stratu m XI retlects this period. In the latter part of the twelfth century, Shechem XII was heavily destroyed - which fits very well with the goings-on under Abimelech, here dated to the 11305 (or possibly a little later). Thus the story of Late Bronze II and Iron IA Shechem matches such information as we have from the biblical record, and goes far to explain the reason why there was no conquest (or conquest record) of Shechem .l32

(j) Life alld Affairs ill PhilistiaU3

The dating of the main arrival and initial settlement of the Philistines in southwest Canaan was reviewed above (cf. pp. ]37-38). The eighth year of Ramesses!I1 (ca. 1180/1177) is and will remain the basic date for that situation, and no amount of casuistry can change it. On their way to Egypt (whence they were rebuffed by the pharaoh), the Philistines evidently destroyed the late Canaanite towns at Ashdod (XIV ), Ascalon (Late Bronze II, old "stage V"), and Ekron (VillA). Virtually undug in modern terms, Gaza and Gath cannot yet be assessed. Then Ashdod (X!II -XII), Ascalon (Iron I, "old stage VI"), and Ekron 2]5


(VII) were soon rebuilt as new, walled cities, whose fine wares were the distinctive monochrome (Mycenaean [IIC types), followed by the more vivid bichrome <1t arollnd 1150 .1J4 Kept out of Egypt (except for some prisoners taken), the Philistines instead took power over sOllthwesternmost C<1na<1n. Before these events (and before lI80), but stated to be after loshua's death, the reputed raid by Judah against Gaza, Ascalon, and Ekron would fall at the very end of the thirteenth century, <1S did Merenptah's <1ttack on Asca[on slightly earlier (within 1213-1210). However, these raids (like many others) may not be detectable in the limited dug remains excavated from this period. Between about 1'75 and 1070 the book of Judges has almost nothing to say about Philistines, concentrating on troubles from the north and east. The guerrilla strike by Shamgar "son of Anath" (or, Bin-Anath) against Philistines ( Iudg. 3:31) would come anytime after circa 1175, once the latter had begun to make their presence felt. Neither Canaanites nor Israelites would welcome these in truders' enforced claims on territory they themselves owned or sought. "Shamgar bill (son of) Anath" may well be a simple abbreviation for "Shamgar [bill (son of) I Bin -Anath."The latter name is attested at this S<1me period under Ramesses [I], being borne then by <1 chief physician Bin-An<1th (of C<1naanite origin?), known from a tomb chapel door fragment, almost certainly from Saqqara, cemetery of the capital, Memphis. 135 Most of Samson's colorful adventures, understandably, do not lend themselves to <1rchaeological commentary. The town ofTimnah (scene of his first known amour, ludg. 14-15) was most likely the present-day ruin at Tel Batash; the Philistine stratum is level V, a well -built township.136 But Gaza saw his end (Judg. 16), when the blinded warrior pulled down two columns in the local temple, destroying his foes and himself in its overthrow. Most typical Palestinian temples, especially local Canaanite designs, had few columns (except sometimes a pair at the entrance), and they offer no light on Samson's last exploit. But Philistine temples may have drawn for inspiration on the Aegean world whence they had indubitably come. [n Cyprus at Kition was found a series of five temples; in the twelfth century Temples 4 <1nd 5 (particularly the latter) consisted of rectangular roofed halls supported by slim pillars (in pairs in nO.5) with the sanctuary at the rear end and main entrance at one side at the front.m If some such structure once stood at Gaza, then after his public performances for his captors, a Samson could have been allowed inside such a temple for a pause, have pulled in the middle pair of columns, and the overweight of people on its roof would have led to its speedy and progressive collapse.

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(ii) Theology, Literary Motifs, Demography (a) The "Deuteronomic PaNern"

As has long been observed, the writer of Judges followed a very consistent thought pattern in his account of his six main actors, from O thniel to Samson, having set out his theme concisely in 2:16-19. It is what was above abbreviated DPCD: the Israelites disobey their deity's requirements, he punishes their disobedience, then they show cOlltritioll, and he delivers them (through a "judge") from their affliction (oppressors). And ever since the late nineteenth century, this kind of presentation of Hebrew h istory has been dubbed "Deuteronomic," and was qu intessentially expressed in such formulations as we find in Deut. 28:15- 30:10 (misdated to 621), and then in the monarchy-period prophets, especially the late seventh- to early sixth -century prophet Jeremiah. 138 However, despite what has been enunciated in a vacuum with almost fa natical insistence from before the 1880s to the present, such a concept and scheme of belief was 110t first invented in 621, or in fact as late as the mid- first millennium B.C. at all. In the biblical world, this whole concept is much older. Thus, from Egypt in the thirteenth to twelfth centuries we have the clearest possible witnesses to this kind of theology, set on a modest personal plane. The village at DeiTel-Medina in ''''estern Thebes was home to the royal workmen who cut and decorated t he tombs of the pharaohs in the Valleys of the Kings and Queens during the Eighteenth to Twentieth Dynasties, in t he period from 1500 to 1070. Within that span, espec ially about 1290-1140, we have a wealth of inscribed pieces left us by these workmen, including votive inscriptions on stelae presented to their deities. Here again is DPCD, and not even by theologians! The most famous was left by the Draftsman Nebre on behalf of his erring son the Draftsman Nakhtamun (now Berlin 20377). We learn that Nakhtamun had, "because of his wrongdoing" (I.e., disobedience) in the sight of the god Amun, been plll1ishedwith sickness and was "ill and close to death." Then came col1triri01l - "supplications were made in his (Amun's) presence" - and "He (Am un) delivered the Draughtsman Nakhtamull," for "in mercy, Amun turned around."l)9 Pure Deuteronomic concept! And at about 1260, at the time of that imaginary Deuteronomisl, the supposedly "mythical" Moses. Nor is this piece an isolated one; the same concept also comes through clearly in other, briefer inscriptions of the period. It is no fluke . On a royal level, with the eclipse of the "heretic" pharaoh Akhenaten, and restoration of the old "normative" Egyptian religion under Tutankhamun about 1330, we find the same concept in operation . On his great stela (Cairo CGC 34183), this king observes that (thanks to Akhenaten's deliberate neglect)


"their (the gods') shrines were decayed into mounds of rubble ... as though they had never been [disobedience]. The land was in calamity, as the gods forsook this land . (So), if the army was sent to Syria, it had no success. If one prayed to a god . .. or a goddess, they would not come at all [plln;shtllwtl."The new king sought to restore matters. "His Majesty made monuments for the gods, ... building their sanctuaries anew," plus many other benefits for Egypt's slighted gods. Contrition. So now, "the gods and goddesses in this land rejoice; .. . exultation is (now) throughout this land, because a good (state of) afflair [s has now come about." Deiiverallce. l40 But neitherTutankhamun nor the Draftsman Nebre had to wait till 621 to employ or express such convictions. And neither need anybody else wait so long, not even the Hebrews. These concepts were common coin from at least the second millennium, if not before. What the author of Judges did was first give his title time line and present the collapse of inner drive and outward success as the Hebrews fell away from Joshua's ideals (1:1- 2:15). Next he stated his work's principle (2:16 -19), and then exemplified it in the rest of his book, from the lives and exploits of his six main characters, and intercalating one, then two, then three others to round out his picture, finally ending with two pictures of deep moral failure in a leaderless [srael. To do so he drew on the historical traditions available to him, selecting appropriate cases by which to exemplify his theme. This was long-hallowed method in the biblical world : not to invent history, but to use real history to illustrate deity's dealings with humanity. So did Tutankhamun, so did the final author of Judges, and so did many others long before and long after, through out that world.

(b) A Literary Usage: Triumph Hymn s

The two famous poems in Exod. 15 and Judg. 5 are part of a whole genre of such compositions, triumph hymns to celebrate victory or dominion, attested from the later third millennium and best known from the second half of the second. A thousand years before a Miriam or a Deborah, Uni of Egypt sang the triumph of his troops in Canaan with repeated two -line "verses," each beginning with "This army has returned in peace," followed by a differing variant line in each of its seven verses. 141 In the Middle Kingdom (early second millennium), triumphalist hymns hono r Sesostris [ and III. At the height of Egypt's New Kingdom in the fifteenth to thirteenth centuries, pharaohs such as Tuthmosis [[ [, Amenophis [II, and Ramesses II in particular caused to be set up such splendid hymnic texts in honor of themselves and of Amun, their giver of victory. Across the Fertile Crescent, Tukulti -Ninurta 1 (1245-1207) celebrated his might in an "epic" with hym -


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nal passages. 14 2 The poems of Exod. 15 and Judg. 5 are the Hebrew counterparts to such works, celebrating the victories of their lord, YHWH, over his and their foes. 143 Their archaic date has been propounded by Cross and others, and there is no compell ing factual reason for doubt.

(c) Tribal Constitution and Sanctuary as Focus

(I) Presence of Tribes within tile Community of "Israel"

In all the biblical sources so far considered (Numbers, Joshua, Judges, I Sam . 1-7), early Israel is consistently shown as a group of twelve tribes (strictly, eleven plus two "sibling t ribes" as one), each tracing its descent from an eponymous ancestor, and these having a common ultimate parent (for the siblings, grandparent), one Jacob or Israel. This phenomenon was not peculiar to early Israel. But from the united monarchy onward, t ribal organization was increasingly replaced in political/economic roles by other arrangements, and was lim ited more to family matters. As we have sem (chap. 4 above), Solomon imposed a new twelve-district system on Israel (without Judah) for revenue purposes. The twin monarchy period saw IlOt a retu rn politically to a multi tribal Israelite federation, but instead a straight, single cleavage between Judah (including Simeon, plus tiny Benjam in) and the northern rest (becoming a lesser kingdom of "Israel") . Ordinary people and families kept their tribal ancestry, and heads of tribes may still have been recognized within their traditional areas socially, but all (politically) were either citizens of Judah or Israel (down to 722), and thereafter only of Judah (to 586) or of the occupying Great Powers. There is no factual basis of any kind for denying the premonarchic reality of early Israel's tribal structure as a federation of officially related tribes with a claimed common ancestor of that name. Quite the contrary. In the early poem in Judg. 5, precisely such a federa t ion is clearly attested (wit h omission of only two out of twelve tribes), and the substantial independence of its tribal units under the overall umbrella of "Israel" is very noticeable. 144 Thus, six tribes are hailed tor their response to Deborah's call: Ephraim, Benjamin, Machir (poetic variant for Manasseh), Zebulon (all, in v. 14), Issachar (IS), and Naphta li (18). Castigated for indifference were four more: Reuben (15-16), Gilead (fo r Gad, dominant there), Dan, and Asher (17). Of the political units, that accounts for ten out of twelve tribes/ sibling-tribes. O nly Judah and Simeon do not feature at all in this essentially northern war, being south of the hostile "Jerusalem divide." Levi did not count; their place was cultic, with the tabernacle, not as warriors. So, in about 1160, we



llirelldy hllve an almost full roster of the tmditionlll twelve tribes; things would hardly hllve been different in the barely fifty years back to 1210 and beyond . So, our ellrly biblical evidence is clear, unequivocal, ;]nd requires to be respected . Merenptah's reported clash with Israel in 1209 was thus with members of a federal group who, together, made up that entity so hated by some Old Testament scholars: "all Israel." But this phrase has its own set of usages that must be respected . [t does mean ;]ll the Israelites in such;] context;]s crossing the jordan (Josh . p, 17; but excluding, even there, the families of Reuben, Gad, ;]nd East Manasseh). Otherwise it has reference Ilorto every man, woman, and child, but to a limited representation. We find it implicitly used of the raiding force (Josh. 10:15,43) drawn from the tribes, but l10tbeing the total tribes. And on major occasions such as joshua's farewell or the covenant renewal at Shechem, "all Israel" is explicitly defined as "their elders, leaders, judges and officers" (Josh. 23:2; 24:1), and /lOt the entire Hebrew populace. As others have pointed out, Deborah's triumph hymn presupposes and invokes not only a tribal structure but also its overall confederll l identity liS "Israel" (juc[g. 5:2, 3, 5, 7- 10). Modern opposition to the phrase and concept of "llll Israel" is ultimately frivolous and without any factual foundation . The people th;]t Merenptah's troops fough t against evidently identified themselves to their foreign foe as Israelites, /Jot as just judeans, Ephraimites, or whatever. And Merenptah's troops were actulllly there to know about it; our modern biblicists were not. Nor is a confederal entity made up of constituent tribes to be regarded as in any way just peculiar to Israel. It is a well -attested social format long before and after early Israel's premonarchic epoch. Half a millennium before that we have multitribal confederations around Mari, mentioned in its archives for the Middle Euphrates area. Thus the Mare- Yamin;] were a federation of such tribes as the Ubrabum, Yakhrurum, Amnanurn, Yarikhum, and Rabbayum . These tribes in turn were made up of clans such as the Bit-Awin, whose community included a village and pastoralists (khibrt/1II ). The Suteans also were made up of at least three tribes, the Almuti and two others, their names now lost. Of the Haneans, we have mention of at least eight or ten t ribes (perh aps more).14S Thus an Israel with a dozen tribes some centuries later is in no way exceptional among western Semites in the second millennium. During succeeding centuries in the highly conservative world of ancient pre-Islamic south Arabia, analogous confederal/tribal structures are to be seen. At the top level, the rulers of Saba (Sheba) already from the tenth to the fifth centuries were entitled "paramount ruler" (mllkarrib, lit. '\miter") and headed a Sabaean-led tederation of the main Old South Arabian local realms, this being then expressed by the BlmdesfonllUiar, or "formula of federation," used during the seventh century, from Karibil Watar I to Sumhu'ali Yanuf (ca . 685, 610),

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who mustered "the whole community of the gods and patrone -deitie)s, and of t he alliance and the rite(?)"146 At a step down sociaHy, and especially in later t imes, the major tribal confederations in :lnd :lround Sab:l had three or four constituent t ribes, often therefore c:llled "thirds" or "fourths ." And these in turn had clans and families further down still. 147 So, from the foothills east of the Taurus to Iran, as far as the Arabian Sea, and from the nineteenth century H.C. to the third century A. D., we h:lve similar profiles to that exh ibited by e:lrly Israel. [t is normal, even customary usage, not:l [ate, artificial concoction .
(2) Amphicryony and Focal Sanctuary?

Already in Joshua's time the portable t abernacle (shelter for the ark of the covenant) was set up at Shiloh (Josh. 18:1), and there it (or its cult) stayed most of the time down to Eli and Samuel's epoch, into the mid- eleventh century. It remained a focus for annual festivals down to that t ime (cf. 1 Sam. 1- 2). Throughout that time it was doubtless a focus for the rel igious element in the Hebrew population, but it played no part in the swirl of politics, with invasions and deliverances by force of arms, any more than most other shrines in antiquity. Its role was modest. However, this did not stop Martin Noth from comparing the Hebrew twelve-tribe confederacy of Israel, and its shrine, with the amphictyon ies of classical Greece, far westward across t he sea, :llmost a thousand miles :lway, and (in present knowledge) dating from t he sixth century B.C., half a millennium later than early lsrael. l4S The closest in format was that of Delphi with twelve member-towns, who allied to maintain the cults of Demeter and Apollo, and to limit warlike acts amongst themselves. After a long period of popularity, biblical scholars rejected most of Noth's detailed comparisons and suppositions, and (throwing out the baby with the bathwater) ditched the whole concept. However, we do not need a distant Greek analogue to the Hebrew tribal groups and their shrine. One objection was to Noth's dating of the twelve-tribe lists, with Gen . 29-30, 49 (starting with Jacob's children) v:lrying from the later list (of descendant tribes) in Num. 26, in that order and as premonarchic. 149 Some have wished to down -date or even reverse the chronological period and order of these lists (e.g., invoking attribution to the theoretical "document" P, of the sixthlfifth century n.c.). This is invalid; there is no factual reason for subjectively down -dating or reversing the dale of the Genesis or Numbers lists . P is an imaginary source (we have no surviving physical manuscript of it), and in any case it could retain record of materia l much older than its own supposed date of composition, if it were real. The objection is also made that the Greek model is centered on the cult and shrine(s) while the Hebrew one is not. This is per-


fecdy true; the comparison is an incomplete one, because the emphases are distinct as between two culturally separate but outwardly similar institutions. Both have a common sanctuary, both have a group of related tribes linked to the shrine, but physical upkeep of the shrine is central to the purpose of one group (Greeks) but not the other (Hebrews). However, as long since proposed, there were analogous institutions much nearer home, in the Near East . Hallo gave a detailed account of a Neo-Sumerian "amphictyony" of twelve or more cities that contributed supplies on a twelvemonthly basis to the upkeep of the cults of the holy Sumerian city of Nippur, under the rulers of the Third Dynasty of Ur circa 2000. As with Greece, the central temples were the focus of attention.l~ The Philistine penta polis has also been compared, as a five -member league, with focus on the temple of Dagon at Gaza; this is possible, but largely inferential. l51 At the end of the day, the Sumerian and possible Philistine examples simply show that groups in the Near East could have central sanctuaries that they supported, and could form federa tions for other pu rposes such as defense. Alongside these concrete cases the Hebrew tribal federa tion can stand, with its shrine. The better comparison is with tribal federations, as at Mari and in early Arabia, already noted above. The Greek comparison is interesting, but distant and ultimately superfluous.


In the last quarter-century current knowledge of the processes of settlement, de-settlement, and resettlement in Middle Bronze to Iron Age Canaan has been transformed, botb by excavations at individual sites and by far-reaching and (at times) very thorough su rface surveys . The gain in practical data is considerable. But given the differing intellectual starting points of the variety of scholars interested - both on the field and off it - much disagreement on the conclu sions to be drawn has arisen and continues, not least on two issues: interaction with the biblical data and questions of ethnicity (Israelite or other). Here, in adherence to our brief, we shall seek to be as factually based as possible, in dealing both with the biblical text as a transmitted artifact and with the rich if intricate external materials. Neither source is complete. loshuaJudges were /le l'er intended to serve later generations as a mini-encyclopedic handbook to Hebrew history in what we call Iron IA. And in terms of external data, most mounds remain undug; the dug ones are rarely dug beyond 5 to 10 percent of their area; and surveys on the surface can never tell the whole story. So there can never be given a complete account of the Early Iron Age or of early Israel in the per iod circa 1220- 1020. Only outlines a re possible.

Humble Begillni1lgs (i) A Biblical Recap

arou1ld and ill Canaan

Before plunging into the archaeology or the attendant controversies, let us quickly encapsulate the basic biblical data - what they are, not what they are too often misread to "mean." Leaving aside rhetorical end flourishes, the narratives give us; ]. After crossing the Jordan, the t wo Jericho/Ai gateway settlements were destroyed and burned . 2. The area up to Shechem was open (no resistance), such that rites could be enacted at Mount Ebal. 3. Gibeon submitted, south Canaanite kings reacted, and Joshua defeated them. This turned into a rapid -action raid, with Joshua attacking towns, killing their chiefs (and others), and rerumillg to base at Gilgal. 4. North Canaanite kings reacted, so Joshua fought and slew them, and raided their towns . Only H<'lzor, the most renowned, was burned down . Again, he returned to base at Gilgal. No occupation! 5. Allotments were determined for future occupation . During this time there was only loca l occupatio n up to Shechemrrirzah, and the tabern<'lele moved up to Shiloh . joshua renewed the coven<'lnt at Shechem. By his death, only the beginnings of local occupat ion had happened - GilgalTirzah, perhaps Hebron. So, first, leaving aside the obligatory rhetorical summations, the book of Joshua does /Jot present <'l sweeping conquestlinst<'lnt occupation, whether espoused by Albright or anyone else. Second, despite numberless assertions to the contrary, Judges does 1I0t give us either an alternat ive narrative of conquest or a connected account of ongoing settlement. It actually gives us the following picture: a. Soon after Joshua's death, listed in south to north order, Judges enumerates the subsequent attempts by individual tribes to enact a takeover in their allotted areas. In the south: Judah had quick success at Bezeq, Negev (and Hebron area), and in the hills, but failed to hold any place in the southwest plains, or jerusalem. The latter repulsed Benjamin (after refo rtification?). In the center: Ephraim/Manasseh took Bethel, but not the lowland towns to the west or Jezreel; Dan was hemmed in, and some Danites went north to wish. In the north: Zebulon, Asher, and Naphtali made very little headway. b. By way of "occupation" the Benjaminites had to settle alongside jebusites,



and the central and northern tribes also had to settle alongside the Canaanites, even if eventually getting the upper hand socially. All this (all in ludg. I) was clearly in the decade or so immediately after loshua, and was then commented on theologically in ludg. 2:1~3:6 . But after this point, the main narratives never again tell us about the settlement process. They only tell us about crises that brought forth local leaders as deliverers from foreign rule. There is 110 ongoi1lg biblical "1larrative of ,ettlement"! At the end, we have only the notice of some Oanites' move to L,ish, and a civil war with Benjamin. Nothing more. Thus, con trary to common dogma, Judges does 1I0t give us an "alternative conquest" but instead notes some attempts at forcing takeovers, plus settling in next to locals, soon after loshua, as a follow-up to his declared allotments. Of the ongoing settlement thereafter, we are told 1I0thing, simply because it would contribute nothing to the author's main theme. For that he drew upon occasions of crisis and oppression of Hebrew groups by others. Full stop.

(ii ) Archaeology, Part I: Changing Settlement Patterns

By now, all serious students of the archaeology of Canaan are (or should be) aware of the basic c1wnges visible from the excavated record from Middle Bronze through Late Bronze into Iron I (ca. 1900-1000).152 Middle Bronze Age II witnessed a period (ca. 1900-1550) both prosperous and populous in Canaan, boasting a series of fortified towns and rich material culture. 2. But in the sixteenth to thirteenth centuries, Late Bronze I- II, the New Kingdom pharaohs incorporated Canaan into the Egyptian empire, drain ing the region through taxation, and in reply to rebellions occasionally destroyed and deported them. The culture suffered, and population and number of settlements visibly deciined.l5J 3. Then new factors came in circa 1230 onward, clearly attested in the first hand Egyptian texts. Rebuffed by Egypt (ca. lI77), the Sea Peoples ended up in Canaan - the Pil isti or Philistines in the southwest, and Sikils and Shekelesh farther north (Oor, lezreel) . In Transjordan, new names appeared: Edom and Moab, plus the Ammonites (as yet unmentioned in contemporary texts). Arameans now became more prominent from the north. And, as Merenprah made crystal dear in 1209, a group called Israel was present within Canaan, most likely in the hill country. All these peoI.

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pIes were to have a long and varied histo ry for the next six or seven centuries. To the Egyptian-derived data correspond the Philistines, Edomites, Moabites, and Arameans named in the biblical books from Numbers to I Samuel ~ and the entity Israel, a tribal group as the Merenptah text implies, and in Canaan's hill country. So we have an outline, basic correspondence of the two sources, Egyptian and biblical. The former cannot be factually dismissed, and so neither can the latter through this general correspondence, whatever quibbles may be raised in detail. The third factor to be added to these two textual resources is the material archaeology, to which we now turn.

(iii) Archaeology, Part II : Surveys, Sites, and Viewpoin ts

(a) Surface Surveys
Surface su rveys have been undertaken in some depth in central Canaan, nota bly by the Fi nkelstein team in the terrain of anc ient Ephraim/Samaria, and by Zertal and colleagues in the adjoining territory of ancient West Manasseh. These and other surveys have shown a dramatic rise in the intensity of settlement in the hill country, especially north from Jerusalem, from around 1200 onward through [ron L Thus the Eph r aim -Samaria survey registered just 9 sites for Late Bronze I- II (with another 3, LB/lron I), a dozen at most. Then for Iron Age phase I, they were able to list not fewer than 131 sites (plus another 94 of Iron I-II), a huge increase . l~4 Next door in West Manasseh, Zertal noted some 39 sites for Late Bronze but over 200 for Iron 1, again a huge increase. This great rash of farmsteads, ham lets, and small villages represents a wholly new development, as is universally admitted . In Manasseh at least, two-thirds of t hese sites were fo unded entirely new; one-third were both founded and abandoned during Iron I, while two-thirds continued to be used and developed in Iron II (monarchy period).1 55 The Canaanites had been in western Palestine for centuries, and the old sites (especially outside the hill country) continued to exhibit their material culture into the twelfth century. In the southwest the Philistines soon showed their characteristic material culture, marked particularly by their monochrome and then bichrome pottery, both of ultimately Aegean inspiration. Up in the hills the innumerable small settlements at first showed Canaanite-style pottery, but quickly went their own way producing their own typically dull, utilitarian wares; storage vessels (for water and foodst uffs), cooking pots, and the like - and almost no fancy novelties. By elimination, and bearing in mind our Egyptian and biblical text indicators, these shou ld be


largely upland Israelite sites, marking not only the modest initial extent of Israelite occupation noted in Judg . I but also its gradual expansion throughout the hil!y zones.

(b) Number-Crunching People The practical question has to be asked (and answered) - where did all these people come from, to populate these scores and scores of new places? In aggregate and fairly quickly, they must have far outstripped the Late Bronze II popu lation of before 1200. All estimates of population here (even rigorous ones) are subject to guesswork factors, and therefore can only be approximate. On the basis of known sites and other factors, Finkelstein suggested that about 21,000 Israelites lived in Canaan by 1150 or soon after, a figure that doubled to perhaps 51,000 by about 1000, on the eve of the united monarchy. (This is for Canaan overall; no figure is offered for other regions, such as Philistia, the western coastal plain, or the vale of Jezreel.)l ~(i So, on his projections, the 21,000 He brews of lI50 might have been somewhat less numerous back in 1210, but not appreciably. But whence arose the 21,000 (or a little less)?

(c) A Sex Orgy Theory for Israel's Origins? Hardly! First, what about the scantily settled hill country in Late Bronze 11, before l2l0? In the Ephraim zone, the survey disclosed some 99 sites occupied during the Middle Bronze Age, ten times the 9 to 12 Late Bronze sites and not far behind Iron I (131), also ten times as many. [n the West Manasseh zone, an initial 135 Middle Bronze sites contrast with 39 Late Bronze sites, as do the 1)1 (later, over 200) Iron I sites recorded - in this more prosperous region, LB is still only one -quarter or hardly more than one-fifth of MB and Iron I respectively. m So, even if one allows for an artifactually invisible pastoral/herding population in Late Bronze, the contrast between Late I3ronze and its immediate precursors and successors is massive. Taking the change between highland Canaan in (say) 1250 and in (say) 1150, how come the population suddenly multiplied fivefold in less than a century (possibly only 50 or 60 years) as opposed to merely doubling in the 150 years between 1150 and 1000? The earlier rate of growth is frenetic! The growth during 1150-1000 may well represent normal stability, and steady but slow population growth with an appreciable infant mortality rate. If so, then the drastic fivefold growth within the decades in which Israel appears (cf. Merenptah) and spreads out into a rash of villages and hamlets is phenomenal.

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If they were simply an indigenous growth, did they have a half-century of fertility-cult sex orgies to breed so many children and grandchildren on a scale hitherto unknown? The matter is bizarre, if we go for an Israelite "origin" exclusively within highland Canaan, featu ring simply a societal change from a supposed transhumant herding life to settled village life, combining crop raising with livestock. This scenario in its own right is (or should be) enough to dismiss firmly the idea that Israel arose simply from the (re?)settling down of former mobile herding folk, or from fug itive Canaanites who came up west into the highlands away from Egyptian tax collectors. That move too would have failed, because Egypt was also overlord of the hills through the city-states that did exist, such as Jerusalem and Shechem (cf. Amarna letters) - the tax collectors would simply have followed them ! And taxed their cattle instead of their erstwhile crops. In short, on severely practical grou nds, the "revolting peasant" and "early Hebrews indigenous to highlands" theories will not work. Their major representatives (Mendenhall, Gottwald) have already been effectively critiqued out of court, a lengthy execution process that we do need to repeat all over again here. They are (to use a favorite ph rase ofW. G. Dever) a "dead issue," as is his own adherence to the "indigenous" theory in a symbiosis version (but firmly dism issing the "revolting peasant" type of theory) .158

(d) Back to Practicality: Go West, Young Man! So we may look again at the archaeology. In both the Ephraim and Manasseh surveys, there stands out a feature which has to be explained; namely, that the new occupation by the highland [ron I populace (Israelite or not) moved init ially from east to west . This is noted repeatedly by Finkelstein, and illust rated most graphically by Zertal. He was able to show that, through time, the fashion in cooking pots (or at least in the forms of their rims) changed . Ah, fickle, fashion-minded Hebrew housewives! Phase A pots had an outturned ("everted") rim of triangular section. These dom inated in use in the first period (Zertal: late thirteenth century), and gave way to phase B- style pots having a thinner, flangelike rim (2ertal: twelfth century), and these in turn by a phase C style, with a curved rim with a narrow lip all round it (2ertal: eleventh century) . But t here is a geographical dimension to all this_ The phase A fashion at its height (over 20 percent of cooking pots) dominated down the east side of Manasseh, spreading out westward. In the central zone and westward these pots were less fashionable (5 to 20 percent maximum), and many west-central sites had none - they were founded after their replacement by phases Band C ves-


sets . 13 and C dominated westward. A similar east -west trend can be seen in the popularity of punctured decorlltion on the pottery, waning westwllrd lind Illter.159 Naturally, more than one theory can be offered for this phenomenon, in Ephraim and Manasseh alike. Finkelstein (wedded to the indigenous Israelite theory) would read all this to mean simply that the herding people put down their first roots along the eastern marches, good for grain and cattle. Then, continuing their settling process, they extended westward to zones of more horticultural type. l60 This is all very well, but falls foul of the population explosion reviewed above, which his view (and Dever's) cannot realistically accommodate. So, what is the alternative? It is humiliatingly simple (which restless, oversophisticated minds hate). The biblical traditions overall are unanimous that Israel came from Egypt (a matter for chap. 6) and that they ellfered Canaan - prior to Joshua they had ,Jot lived in C1naan, by tradition, for centuries when their claimed ancestors passed that way ending up in Egypt. We have already seen that there is nothing inherently to prove positively otherwise, and that sun dry felltures in Numbers to Judges find good background in our external sources. So, if a body of between 10,000 and 20,000 people came into II highland Canaan sparsely inhabited by hardly a fifth or a quarter of that number (4,0001 5,000?) in the fifty or so sites of Ephraim and Manasseh plus a few more from the Benjamin district down to the Negev, then no wonder the population shot up between (say) 1250 and 1150. Sex orgy not needed! The incomers were indeed pastoralists. Their ancestors were such when entering Egypt (cf. Gen. 4PO; 46:6; 46:32~47:6; etc.), they left Egypt with livestock (Exod . 10:26; 12:38), and they held and acquired more in Misho r and Gilead east of the Jordan (Num. 20:]9; 3]:2.5 47; 32:]-4; Josh . 1:14) So, if early Israel did indeed cross from east of the Jordan into Canaan by Gilgal and Jericho, and then moved up into the hi!! country, the cattle-and-grain culture of the eastern zone there would have suited them well, from which they would have spread westward in due time. Problem in essence solved. An immigration movement from east to west is also proposed by Zertal, with variations in detail, e.g., siting of Gilgal(s) .161

(e) Egyptian Politics

Why did Merenptah suddenly have to cTUsh revolt so near home in Canaan as Ascalon and Gezer, tackle long-quiet Yenoam, and get involved with Israel, within his Years 1-4 (1213 _1210)?162 In ancient Near Eastern empires like those of New Kingdom Egypt or Assyria, it was commonplace for the accession of a new king to be greeted by revolt in those distant provinces that hoped thereby to se-


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cure their independence. But here we have something different: not a revolt in more distant regions such as Phoenicia or south Syria (e.g., Upe), but close to home in Canaan, even (Ascalon, right under Pharaoh's nose! This was not normal. This suggests that there were specific reasons for the Egyptian attack on these places. The critical criterion of a vassal's loyalty was payment of tribute. Failure to do so constituted rebellion. Ever since Tuthmosis II I (1479-1425), this matter had been paramount. And from Lach ish, for example, comes an ostracon, usually considered to be of Merenptah's reign, that once recorded harvest tax payable in Year 4 ( 1210) to the Egyptian authorities.163 But if these towns, Gezer and Ascalon (and maybe Yenoam?), could not, hence did not, pay their tax, then Pharaoh's army would normally march out to collect it. If marauding bands such as some of Joshua's (or the elders') Israelites had come down from the hills at harvest and stolen the grain crops of these two towns, then the latter might well have had trouble in providing their grain-tax quotas to the pharaoh's commissioners, and had to be cowed into coughing up somehow. Looki ng for the source of the trouble, the Egyptian force had then ascended briefly into the hills to chase these bandits known as "Is rael," and knocked off a few of them, by way of warning . An Egyptian fort at modern Lifta ("Well of Me l TIl 1eptah") may have been established to reinforce the vassal state of Jerusalem against them . One king of Gezer had earlier been wo rsted by Joshua's raiders (Josh . IOJ3), and a little later some Judean raiders may have penetrated briefly to Ascalon and its grainfields (cf. Judg. 1: 18) . So we might conceivably - but not certainly - have an interesting panorama here, hitherto unsuspected. Up north, Yenoam may have had similar trouble. It is worth remarki ng that, alo ng with the Song of Deborah barely half a century later, Merenptah's mention virtually proves the antiquity of the concept of "all Israel." His t roops encountered people who called themselves not ludahites or Benjaminites or Manassites, etc., but Israelites; and others (at Ascalon and Gezer?) who termed them likewise. And of course, automatically the whole group of these people could only be called "all Israel," precisely as Deborah did later, in the poetical context of happening to name ten of the twelve/thirteen tribal groups that already made up Israel. Let us have no more silly claims that "all Israel" was a much later concept; Merenptah and Deborah during 1210 to 1160 forbid such an academic faux pas.

(f ) Ethnicity -

with Porkers and Porkies (or, Pigs and Fibs)

Or, nudged by Hershel Shanks, as Professor Dever has so delightfully put it, "how to tell an Israelite from a Canaanite." A 64,000 dollar (shekel?) question!


Much discussion has centered on the presence in Palestinian sites offour-room houses, collared-rim jars, and use of (sometimes plastered) cisterns. However, these items are at least in part a delusion . It is known that so-called fourroomed houses occur outside the territory of ancient Israel. They became typical of early Israel, and continued in Israelite use long after our Iron I period. Likewise, the collared - rim jar was not unique to early Israel. However, the combination of the two is typical of sites within the acknowledged Israelite areas. Storage pits are very common in Iron I sites within the areas probably settled by early Israel, but these are not water cisterns. Plastered cisterns were not an Iron I innovation, but occur in both Neolithic and L1te Bronze periods. On the other hand, it has been suggested that the use of agricultural terraces to exploit hill slopes does date from the thirteenth and twelfth centuries, following on tree clearances. l64 As for pottery, the earliest stuff at the early Iron I sites is closely related to outgoing Late Bronze Ii wares, but in due course the typical utilitarian Iron I wares were developed that are no longer Canaanite in nature or definition. These have become "early Israelite," but possibly could have been adopted also by other highland people (lebusites, Horites, etc.). A further factor recently brought into play is ancient diet. In twelfthcentury Canaan, pig bones occur in food refuse in some areas and not in others. As food, pigs were popular in the Philistine-dominated area in southwest Canaan, were acceptable in Transjordan (Amorite/early Ammonite), but were seemingly taboo in highland Canaan in the particular region that ex.hibits the rash of new, small Iron I settlements (plus such :IS Shiloh and Mount Eb:ll) and is the habitat of earliest Israel in the narratives of loshualludges. The practices observed there (use of sheep and goat, and perhaps a form of deer) do indeed correspond to the limits set by the dietary laws of Lev. \I. This fact, of course, clashes badly with old-fashioned a priori nineteenth-century theory that such laws must be "late" in date of origin (even postexilic).165 But mere theory can110t ever be sacrosanct, and II1I1St give way to contrary facts if or when such f.1cls surface. Thus, objections to this excavated phenomenon (archaeological data being primary, as Dever would put it) that are based on sl:lvish :ldherence 10 old -style theory are simply not valid, :lnd must give way to new facts. The best explicit evidence for an Isr:lel-group in Canaan by 1200/1160 is the mention by Merenptah and the cohesive summary in Debor:lh's early poem; physical substance is given to these written sources by the archaeological recovery of the set tlements, material culture, and way of life in highland Canaan. The latter work may not determine "ethnicity" rigidly,l66 but does give practical form to our knowledge of the people(s) named, whether Canaanites, Philistines, Israelites, each in their main zones.

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(g) Sites and Sa nctuaries? Shiloh

The situation at Shiloh in the twelfth -eleventh centuries, we have looked at compactly above, under Saul (chap. 4 above, p. 8). The lroll I phase at the site was violently destroyed about 1050 or so, in line with the veiled allusions in ler. 7:12-14 and Ps. 78:60 -61. There is no reason to view Shiloh in Iron I as anything other than an early Israelite center, amidst an area of considerable early Israelite settlement. On its tribal federal role, pu rely religiously, cf. already above, pp. 9697

(1) The "BIIII Sire"1 61

On top of a high ridge (Dhahrat et -Tawileh), within range of a cluster of small sites largely of Iron I date, was found a bronze bull figu rine, and then a circular stone wall, with entry(?) from the east, whose southeast quadrant contained a broader-than -tall upright stone (abou t two feet by three feet) behind flat paving. Here were found lower parts of two pottery bowls, a bronze fragment, and a pottery fragment attributed to a possible cult stand; no ash was found, but "a few bones." Most of the north half of the enclosure was eroded, so any further installations are lost. The walled circle is about twenty-one meters (about seventy feet) east -west, and would have been a.bOllt twenty-three meters (abollt seventyfive feet) north-south . The remains of a stone wall, parallel with the south-side entry wall, seem to be intended to close off the stone-and-pavement area . From these details, what may one deduce? A "domestic" explanation might suggest either a shepherd's stone hut and enclosure, with bench stone and clean pavement for his bundle and few crocks and flints. A small flock could be corralled in the enclosure . It is certainly not a farms tead way up on a crest, unless erosion has been much more severe than envisaged hitherto. Or, was it a guard post, whence messages about advancing foes might be quickly carried down to the villages below? But it does not overlook its own nearby valley. But what about the bull figurine (and possible cult stand)? Again, no final proof of anything beyond perhaps a figure and offering stand for domestic or personal cult in this upland outpost - either of Baal -Hadad ( if Canaanite) or else (if [sraelite) of YHWH (or even Baa[?), considered invisibly standing above the bull, symbol of power, if one thinks of Exod. 32 :1-8 (a golden calf of YHWH) and of 1 Kings 12:25-33 (Jeroboam ['s golden calves at Bethel and Dan). Viewed minimalistically in this way, the "bull site" would lose its mystique, but not much else. It is perfectly possible that, in fact, it served - also, or exclusively - as a hilltop local shrine for the surrounding Iron [ (Israelite) vil-



lagers during the first half of the twelfth century, before flllling out of use. In which Cllse it would hllve served llS a local Uhigh place," as originally advocllted by its excaV:ltor, Amilllli M:lzar, and the stone and pavement:ls its focus, plus the bull :lnd presumed cult stand. The precise n:lture of wh:ltever rites were possibly celebrated is not clear. Bowls may suggest drink offerings or libations, andlor a flour and oil "grain offering" (for the latter, cf. Lev. 2; 7:11 -18). The bones are not specified - modest s:lcrifices might have been made; cf. the regular cult:lt the tabern:lcle some thirty miles to the south:lt Shiloh (Num. 28; and I:lter in degener:lte form, 1 Sam. 2:12 -16). Such a cult would save the locals a sixty- or seventy-mile round -trip to Shiloh except for occasional visits for major annual feasts.
(2) Mount Ehal

This is the most controverted of our three putative Iron I shrines. During 198289, A. Zertal excavated a stone ruin on a ridge on the northeast upper flank of Mount Ebal, but below its summit. Within II Illrge area enclosed by low walls, an upper llTell WllS further wlllled off 10 form an inner enclosure, reached by a flight of three broad, shallow steps. Within that area stood a rectangular stone structure. The site was used during two phases of Iron I, within broadly 1220 -1150: strata II (earlier) and [(later), in a simple rebuild (no violent destruction), the dating being confirmed by two late Ramesses II scarllbs. So far, so good, with little in dispute. l68 Exactly under the center of the later, square structure (stratum I) was a stone circle and rectangular floor (Stratu m II) of a compllrtmented building containing ash and llnimal bones - function not certain . [n front of it more circles occurred (later included within twin open areas before the solid stone struc ture). These contained either pottery vessels (now empty of original contents) or else more bones and ash. A second building was a four-room house, with store jars in compartments; various hearths were found around the site. At this first period, the only enclosure was the in ner one (west side at least). Up till now, minimalistically, there is nothing needfully cultic about all this (theoretically, a regular bivouac spot for herdsmen?). But one could argue for a site where meals and modest offerings had been made from time to time, for whatever reason. With the later stratum (I), the fun begins. According to the excavator's full results (after four seasons), the big square stone structure was then built with twin forecourts in front. These were divided by a stone structure that ran up against the front of the great square block. As preserved, it looked like a ramp 10 the block's top. Around the whole area was built a far larger enclosure


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of very low walling. The square structure had twin internal dividing walls (with a gap between), and the hollow interior was filled with layers of stone, earth, and ashes (including animal bones), then leveled off. But, what was it? After a brief visit to just the first season of excavation, Kempinski had proposed a theory of three strata: the first, the simple structures of Zertal's early stratum II; the second, the twin courts of Zerta!'s stratum I, plus the walling beyond flanking the central block (dotting in a theoretical rear and middle wall); and his third, the central block plus the supposed ramp (also Zertal's stratum I) as sidewall of a room as successor to one court. Thereby he hoped to gain a simple site (as with Zertal), then a farmhouse, and a watchtower and adjunct. However, full excavation rules out the farmhouse (of very peculiar plan), leaving only the block, twin courts, and wall or ramp, plus about one hundred stone installations around, half of them with either domestic or small votive vessels. A watchtower base/foundation (approached by a ramp between the twin courts) was still a feasible solution, structurally. (The tower itself might have been of brick or timber, all gone. ) This view is not beyond objec tion . One is that the contemporary Iron I watchtower at Giloh has a quite different foundation block of solid fil l and no inner partition walls. The Iron II tower there does have such walls, but one main one across, buttressed by crosswalls; so it is not a full parallel and is very much later, by up to 500 years.169 Also, not being on Ebal's mountaintop, a tower's views would be limited to the road north from 5hechem toward Tirzah . So the tower theory is open to some doubt. Thus, not at the beginning of the excavation (as Kempinski mistakenly reported) but in the third season only, in 1983, a remark by David Etam on the format of the hollow square with a fill led him and Zertal to propose that this was a solid-state equivalent of the tabernacle's altar, of a hollow set of boards to set over an earthen fill. Here was a stone frame with roughly earthen fill . They also proposed that the rear walls and rear projecting walls from the twin courts (plus the lower wall down the left side of the ramp) might be a precursor to the side ram ps/ledges of the Herodian altar. Hence the structu re would have been a large altar within a low-walled precinct that saw service briefly within circa 1220-]]50. For Zertal it was but a short step then to invoke Deut. 27:1 -26 and josh. 8:30 -35. Moses commanded, and joshua performed, a ceremony of building an altar on Mount Ebal for sacrifices (and for the people to feast), and inscribing the "Law" (covenant) on plastered stones, besides the rite of cursing and blessing in front of the twin mountains Ebal and Gerizim. There is nothing inherently impossible in such a view - nor can one prove it to be correct. Large, open enclosures are not needfully sacred areas; witness the farmstead at Giloh, or Zertal's enclosure at EI -Vnuq near the jor233


dan. As Zertal's ovenlll survey found no other structure of this period anywhere in the ample acres of Mount Ebal, there is, of course, the temptation to clinch the matter directly in favor of his view. But preservation of monuments across thirty-two centuries is a chancy business . If it were the site of Joshua's ceremonies, then one must say that no scrap of the inscribed plastered stones has survived. Nor could we reasonably expect it in so very exposed a context. If that is so, then in theory Joshua's altar might on<:e have stood elsewhere on Ebal, and have been long since wiped out completely; far greater edifices than it have suffered such a fate. The final verdict? At present, strictly, 1I01/liquet. There is no final proof or disproof for either a watchtower or an altar complex (of joshua or otherwise). It is noteworthy that the fiercest opposition to the specter of joshua's altar has come from minds not open to such revolutionary possibilities. Thus, all that Kempinski could finally offer against the <:oncept was the old views about the theoretical late (Deuteronom ic) date for the books of Deuteronomy and joshua in the seventh century, which are not fact, merely dogma . Plus an odd preference for a Samar itan-inspired shift of Joshua's efforts to Gerizim from Ebal, and the (unjustified) grumble that nobody could walk (or carry anything) up a ramp over three feet wide. None of this has any evidential value in terms of hard fact. It is also Deuteronomic disease that moved such as Dever to mock the place as a picnic site - which (as Zertal observed) is precisely a feature of such occasions (cf. Dellt . 27:7 in particular; and people might eat deer even if not offering them with bull, sheep, or goat). To Rainey's charge that only the gullible would believe Zertal's claim, one may observe that such people as Coogan and Mazar (who both grant a cu ltic possibili ty) could hardly be thus dismissed. Colorful language is not the answer either. In short, Zertal's view is feasible, but abso lute certainty eludes us.

So, after a long pilgrimage ro und Canaan and adjoining terrain, we may now sum up the results. First, no total conquest and occupation. The book of Joshua does IJOt describe a total Hebrew conquest and occupation of Canaan, real or imaginary. Read straight, its narratives describe an entry (from over the Jordan), full destruction of two minor centers (Jericho, Ai; bu rned), then defeat of local kings and raids through south Canaan. Towns are attacked, taken, and damaged ("destroyed"), kings and subjects killed alld rheJJ left behilld, 1I0t held 011 to. The

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same in north Canaan: strategic Hazer is fully destroyed (burned), but no others. The rest are treated like the southern towns, and agai1l left, 110t held. Israel stayed based in GiIgal, t hen took over an inland strip from there up to Shechem and Tirzah . These preliminary successes were celebrated wit h war rhetoric appropriate to the time, which should not be twisted to mean what it does not. Joshua made allocations 110t taken up while he yet lived. Contrast Josh. 23:4, "nat ions I defeated" (but not occupied!), with 23:5, "YHWH will expel them, you will possess" (futures), plus explicitly ludg. 2:22-23. Prior to all t his, in Num . 2033, we have the Hebrews going from Qadesh-Barnea down across the central Arabah, around the northern nucleus of Edom, up to Moab, and taking over the plains of Mishor and terrain of Gilead. Second, external data for Joshua and Numbers. We have no direct external textual references to the Israelite entry or raids or initial settlement from Gilgal to Shechem. In the later thirteenth century, Mesopotamia - in the guise of Assyria - never penetrated beyond the Euphrates into Syria proper; Hittite power at Carchemish stood against them . So no data can come on south Palest inian events (especially in the inner highlands) from that quarter. Egypt officially was overlord of Canaan, but her main interest was in the productive coastal plains, lowland hills, and Jezreel, not in the economically poorer highlands, and in keeping hold on the main routes north into Phoenicia (to Tyre, Sidon, Byblos, etc.) and to DamascuS in Upe. So long as highlanders of any kind did not interfere there, and the Transjordanian groups did not interfere with the Timna (Sinai) mining works at the southern end of the Arabah, neither did Egypt bother with them . When they did, she struck back, and they got ment ioned . Thus Sei r and Seirites (" land" and "Mount") were attacked by Ramesses II (within ca . 1275-1260) and invaded by Ramesses lJl (ca. 1170); Edomites - termed Shasu, i.e., "wanderers" - came into the East Delta (Wadi Tumilat) to water their livestock und er Merenptah (ca. 1206).17Q Moab was invaded by Ramesses II about 1272, who took Dibon and four other settlements. Ammon is not (yet) named by anybody, but can be defined archaeologically.l71 And finally, in 1209 (NOT 1207!), Merenptah's forces recaptured the towns of Ascalon, Gezer, and Yenoam, and defeated the people-group Israel. So the biblical data and Egyptian references are agreed on the effective existence and activity of Seir/Edom, Moab (with Dibon!), and Israel at this time, plus Ammon (which was archaeologically extant). One cannot really ask for more in the circumstances. And between Ramesses III and Siamun/Shoshenq I (time of the Hebrew monarchy), no other pharaoh is known to have campaigned in Ca naan, to speak of it. Thi rd , the "cultura l" profile of what we find in Joshua . (i) Joshua is not alone as leader of an opportunist, would -be expansionist group in Canaan or 235


south Syria . Labayu ofShechem and Abdi-ashirta (and son, Aziru) in Amurru of the fourteenth centu ry offer analogous profiles and (in Am urru's case) actually achieved much more than did Joshua, territorially. (ii) In the second half of the second millennium (our period), campaign reports often had the same profile as Joshua's. Divine commission might first be recorded; then the first conflicts in detail; and later campaigning in briefer, more formulaic fashion. The conquests made are summed up in topographical lists of those kings/places subdued. This we find with Tuthmosis !I I, in his detailed account of the firs t campaign (Meg iddo), and much more summary record of most later cam paigns, except in part for Qadesh up north; d. Joshua, more on Hazar (his main northern foe) than on others in north Canaan. The same literary profile was already practiced by the Egyptian general Uni, invading Canaan in the late thi rd millennium: a detailed account of his first campaign, then the dismissive remark, "His Majesty sent me to lead this [army] 5 times," with no further detail except for a pincer maneuver on the last occasion.172 By contrast with all this, the general trend in the later first -millennium Assyrian annals is the opposite. Later editions of these are found to abbreviate or compress the accounts of the earliest campaigns and to devote more space to the latest ones. So, with 5halmaneser [II, where the account of his first campa igns in (e.g.) the later annals of 842 is briefer than in accounts of 856 or 853/852.173 For comm issioning, compare Tuth mosis IV, Merenptah, and Ramesses [II, plus Mursil II of Hatti, etc. Formulaic summary of series of attacks is well exhibited in EA 1851t86 of the fourteenth centu ry. The list of places/kings with prologue in Josh . 12:7-24 is precisely what one might expect at this epoch; it is not "late," as some commentators would claim. Likewise the use of broad, rhetorical closing summaries (like Josh. 11:16-17). Joshua must be judged on the narratives, l10tthe summaries; to do otherwise is a sure mark of ignorance. A!l of this is authent ic usage, and good second-millennium practice. (iii) Incidental cultural points and archaeology. The personal names of several Canaanite kings opposing Joshua are of Hurrian origin; this is a mark of the late second millennium . The Hurrian element is only vestigial later (in south Anatolia, northernmost Syria; Talmai under David), and is gone completely by circa 700. The fema le tavern -keeper phenomenon (d. Rahab) is valid down to circa 1100, after which customs changed. With Achan, his punishment for sacrilegious theft is known from the eighteenth century onward; the expression used for his gold wedge is that of the late second millennium . (iv) After the entry from the east over the Jordan, and Hebrews spread into the region north of Jerusalem (Ephraim/Manasseh), the expansion from east to west corresponds with the east -west development of pottery styles during the end of the thirteenth into the early twelfth centuries. Naturally, there is

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overlap in t he process, as a new style did not suddenly replace totally an existing style. And in some districts (e.g., Isbet Sartah), people had moved forward (westward) quicker than in others . (v) The range of sites in use in the later thirteenth century corresponds very well with those named in loshua and ludges. None are burned save three; so it is useless to try to determine a Hebrew"destruction" by seeking "fire streaks" in these sites, outside Hazar (abu ndantly evidenced, level XlI]), Jericho (LB 1113, totally eroded), or Ai (s ituation obscure) . Caught between Philistine intruders in the sout hwest and Hebrews dashing down from the hills just east, Canaanite commentators might well have complained about the murderous impact of beer-swilling Philistine lager-louts murdering them on the one hand (1'70S; cf. fall of Lachish VI, Tel Sera IX), and earlier (ca . 1220/1210) of gung-ho Hebrew bandit gangs slVarming into their townships, smashing everything in sight, killing everyone they caught, especially their rulers, and being gone as quickly as they had come. No account by them has survived, of course. But co m plaints to the pharao h about the (unrelated) Apiru in the Amarna letters do show what might have been expected (again, cf. EA 185/186). (vi) The border and town lists are, aga in, types of documents well attested in the second millennium . And as we have t hem, they do not precisely correspond to the Hebrew holdings on the ground at any later period (not even with the "united monarchy"). They are projections for territory to be taken, not later relicts of the days of Solomon, Hezekiah, Josiah, or anyone else, which epochs do not fit . Fourth, the travels from Qadesh -Barnea to Jordan . (i) Here we have are alistic itinerary, particularly if the limited nature of Edam is understood: the main massif between Wadi Hasa (ancient Zered) and Feinan/Wadi Ghuweir, via which latter the Hebrews would have gone round Edom to pass the edges of Moab farther north. Itineraries as a genre are familiar from other early sources. (ii) There is knowledge of local peculiarities, e.g., kewirs. In the Negev, Arad was a kingdom with sh ifting centers. (iii) The Edomites and Moabites were largely tented kingdoms (as Ramesses 111 proves for Edom/Seir), even though t he Moabites had Diboll and four other centers in the th irteenth century (Ramesses 11); they were true kingdoms nevertheless (cf. early Assyria, and Manana). (iv) The archaeology of the Mishor plain and Gilead does attest occupation in Late Bronze 11 and Iron I, consistent with Moabite/Amorite, Ammonite, and Hebrew presences. Fifth , the book of Judges. (i) This sholVs a brief tribal fo llow-up (in Judg . 1) to enforce a settlement after Joshua, with some initial success then progressive failure, leaving the Hebrews to settle among their neighbors rather than supplanting them. (ii) It contains /10 f/Jrther acco/nlt of tlte settlement process, and is thus NOT alternative to a (nonexistent) "total" conquest/occupation by


Joshua, as a persistent (and almost fanatically held) biblicist dogma would have it. Instead, it illustrates a theological paradigm of Disobedience> Punishment > Contrition> Deliverance, drawing upon six major examples, varied with six brief cases of lesser victors and quiet administrators, and ends with two "sad cases" (17- 21). (iii) A critical examination of the structures of ludges shows that it is a continuous narrative, but not a continuous history. The leaders presented are local in scope, and in part contemporary in different regions. Their aggregate years fit within a 170-year real-time lapse precisely as do the aggregate years of groups of rulers (dynasties) in, e.g., Egypt or Mesopotamia. (iv) The particular history of Dan/Laish corresponds well in terms of both the Hebrew narratives and the archaeology of Tell Dan (Laish); this correspondence could not, therefore, be invented over half a millennium later. In the case of Shechem, the town was modest and no longer supported a king like Labayu (or a king at all) in the thirteenth and twelfth centuries; so there was no local power to conquer or oust south of Tirzah. The finds from the end of the thirteenth century on Mount Ebal above Shechem - if cultic (which is possible) - may indicate a local sacred spot (level IJ) that was taken over to build a ceremon ial altar (level 18) for some such ritual as that of Josh . 24, and then deliberately covered over against reuse afterward (level IA); certainty about this function cannot be gained as yet. (v) The "Deuteronomistic" paradigm of Judg . 2-16 is /Jot one that was first invented following on only from 621. Precisely the same parad igm (DPCD) is common coin in the second millennium, as is proven by the mind-set of Tutankhamun's great Restoration Stela (ca. 1330) and by very explicit instances among the Egyptian workforce (hard ly theological elitists!) at Deir el -Medina in the thirteenth century. These cannot be denied or down-dated by over half a millennium just to suit modern "critical dogma" of nineteenth-century origin . (vi) Triumph hymns over foes are a tradition particularly well attested in the second millennium (and even before; cf. Uni). Those of Exod. 15 and ludg. 5 fit into that tradition, usu ally admitted to be archaic. Midianites only occur "live" down to the eleventh century, then they and Qurayya disappear. (vii) Israel's nature as a grou p of tribes (containing clans and families) is a feature endemic to the ancient Near East, and is not artificial; good examples (Mari-Yamina, Suteans, Haneans) are known from the nineteenth and eighteenth centuries, and persist millennia later in highly conservative Old South Arabia (tenth century B.C. into first millennium A.D. on firsthand inscriptional evidence). The once oft-drawn parallel between tribal Israel with its Shiloh sanctuary and Greek amphictyonies can be ditched without loss; the Greek institution was formed too late to be significant, and its emphasis (basically, cult maintenance) was different, as also was the nature of its members (city-state

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communities, not tribes). However, there are part ial analogies much closer geographically: the Sumerian league based on city-states contributing to the ancient cults at sacred Nippur under the Ur III Dynasty circa 2000, and the possible example of the Phil istine pentapolis in our period here . Thus Israel as a multitribe entity in the twelfth and eleventh centuries, its sum called "all Israel," and their having a common shrine (as at Shiloh) are all above reproach. (viii) That there wasan entry by the Israelites into Canaan from outside is indicated clearly by the demographic situation revealed by modern archaeological surveys, revealing a whole rash of fresh, new, small settlements. In the 150 years circa 1150 - 1000, the population seems to have doubled, but in less than half that time, circa 1210 - 1150, it at least quintupled! A theoretical ongoing orgy of procreation fo r two generations can be dismissed as fantasy; the only answer is that numbers suddenly shot up because additional people came in. The entry of the Israelites is an obvious factor; no ot her is. The "revolting peasant" and "up to the hills away from taxation" types of theories can be dismissed; neither would account for the massive demographic or cultural changes. In conclusion, what may we fai rly say so far on this period? A whole series of features t ies the contents and styl ing of Joshua, Num . 20-33, and Judges to known usage in the second millennium, besides other realia not thus chronologically fixed. All of th is favors the authenticity of the Joshua-Judges narratives, regardless of the final date of Joshua and Judges as books. Likewise does t he physical archaeology, once the common but erroneous dogmas about t hose books are discarded, as they have to be on a straight reading . We have almost all the mentioned places in the Joshua narratives, and list of kings, attested as inhabited in Late Bronze II; Jericho's top levels are long gone, Ai is a question mark . The gradual expansion east to west is mirrored in the central Canaan surveys in pottery patterns. The sudden presence of many more people in Iron IA after Late BroIlZe II favors new fo lk having come in - but neither by out right conquest nor by invisible infiltration, nor just a few tax dodgers. In short, along with many other details, there is no valid reason for denying the basic picture of an entry into Canaan, init ial raids and slow settlement, with many incidental features that belong to the period, and transmitted in tradition into the books that we have now. None of the aforementioned features could be simply invented without precedent in the seventh century or later.



Lotus Eating and Moving On Exodus and Covenant

Throughout the Hebrew Bible, there is no single event (or theme, if the status of "event" be denied) to which its various writers hark back so pervasively as the trad ition of the ancestral Israelites being liberated from servitude in Egypt, then forming a community under their deliverer deity YH\'VH, before undertaking their long (and prolonged) journey to the banks of the Jordan to enter Canaan . The pendant to leaving Egypt was the Sinai covenant, with its renewals in the plains of Moab and in Canaan .



On the exodus in particular we have two sets of sources in t he Bible, one copious and continuous and one episodic and occasional, which we must first briefly review. Then we can proceed to evaluate the nature of these references not by self-opinionated guesswork (as is fashionable currently) but by adducing the acid test of independent, external evidence so far as it is available. That evidence is uneven, takes several different forms, and is limited; the rea sons for this must be spelled out. Then it may be feasible to reach some realistic results.



The first set (copious :lnd continuous) by its sheer bulk will concern us most :lnd first. It is now represented by four books: Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. In Exodus we find the following contents:

(0 Condition s before th e Exod us

a. bmoductory preamble: The original Hebrew clan entered Egypt and flourished; that generation died, and (eventually) a later pharaoh sought to ensl:lve the Hebrews and limit their numbers (chap. I). b. Moses in Egypt and Sinai: In these conditions a boy was born and adopted into the (local) royal palace, named Moses. Homicide impelled him to flee Egypt for Sinai until a new king ruled. Then it was claimed that the Hebrew ancestral deity YHWH commissioned him to return and lead his people out of Egypt, to return to Canaan (whence their ancestors had come to Egypt) (chaps. 2- 4). c. Moses' rerum and pedigree. Back in Egypt, Moses confronted Pharaoh, who worsened Hebrew working conditions; his pedigree is given (chaps.
5- 6).

(ii ) Co ntest, Moses vers us Pharao h, and the Exodus

Comesr and plagues: Moses cl:lshed with royal magicians, and nine successive plagues follow on, ending with de:lths of Egyptian firstborn (the tenth). The Hebrew "Passover" rite was initiated (7-12:30). b. Departure froll1 Egypt, travels to Moullt Sinai: Exodus via Succoth, through w:lters of the "Re(e)d Sea" with swamping of Egypt ian force; triumph hymn . Then travel into Sinai, to Mount Horeb (12:3 1 -39).

(iii) The Sinai Covenant. Part

a. lIthial sections of the covenant include a title line and prologue (20:1, 2), then the first series of basic stipulations (20:3-17, "Ten Command ments"), plus detailed commands (chap. 20-3 1) both social (whole com munity) and religious (for tabernacle and its staff). Included are mention

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of the deposit of t he text ("testimony") in Exod . 25:t6, 21and tacit witness memorials; cf. Exod. 24+ b. [rregular cult: The episode of the golden calf and its el imination (chaps. 32- 34) c. The cOlIsrruction and setting up of the tabernacle are narrated (chaps. 3540). In Leviticus we have the direct continuation of the content of Exodus with the tabernacle cult, its specifics and inauguration, the offerings, priests, etc. (chaps. 1 - 10).

(iv) The Sin ai Covenant, Part

a. Furtlrer stipulations: Social (chaps. 11- 20) and cultic (21-25). b. Concluding blessings and curses: Reward and sanction for obed ience/ disobedience. c. Supplement: An added ruling (chap. 27) . Then we have the book of Numbers. Here, after a first census and more regulations (1-10 :10), and with equ ipment (trumpets), the Israelites left Sinai and (after various incidents) reached Qadesh -Barnea, where we last saw them in chapt er 5 :lbove. Thereafter new rules were m:lde, :lnd (with further incidents, including a second census) they eventually reached the pla ins of Moab. Finally we reach Deuteronomy, plus a visit to Josh. 24. Here, embedded in t he book of Deuteronomy, we h:lve:

(v) First Renewal of the Sinai Covenant

This book contains a record of the covenant as renewed, as foHows: a title (1:1-5) and retrospective prologue (1:6-4). Then stipulations, both social and cultic (chaps. 5- 26), and ceremonials to be performed later (chap. 27). Other arrangements included depositing the text with the cult center and its periodic reading to the people (31:9-13), and for it to be a witness (31:26) . And as in Leviticus, blessings :lnd curses ue laid down for obedience/disobedience (chap. 28). Tailpieces to the book are a song and blessing of Moses, and notice of his decease (chaps. 32-34). And then, in Canaan, to complete the data on this feature, we have:


(vi ) Second and Third Renewals of the Sin ai Covenant

See Josh. 8:]0 -]5, and 24 . Josh. 8 merely mentions the event and accompanying rites, with no detail of the content of the renewed covenant. losh. 24, however, gives some account of the conlent in barest outline: t itle (v. 2b), prologue (vv. 2C-13), basic requirement (vv. 14-21) (for a deposition, cf. 8:32), witnesses (vv. 22, 27), and traces of blessing (v. 20 end) and curse (v. 20) . These renewals of the Sinai covena n I relate to the same socia l instrumen t as is present in Exodus-Leviticlls, and t hus they need all to be considered together in due course.

The second set of references to the exodus (episodic and occasional) is scattered th rough all types and dates (however construed) of the biblical wr itings. [t will be useful to marshal these mentions in congruent groups. (i) /11 covena1/t dOC1l1l!ents, exodus-deliverance is reason for respect for fellow /wmmts, both Israelite and alien . So, in Exod . 22:21; 23 :9, 15 (d. 34:18) ; and 29:44-46. Then in Lev. 11:1 -45; 18:3; 19:33 -34, 36; 22:32 -33 (cf. 2):54-55) ; 23:42-43; 25:36 -]8,42; 26:13, 45. Only Num. 15:40-41 in that book. And Deut. 6:12, 21 -23; 7:8; 11:3 -4; 13:5, 10; 16:1 (feast), 12; 20:1; 24:18, 22; 26:6 -10; 29:22-26. Thus the exodus event pervades the law/covenant corpus. (ii) Exodru-deliverancc is cause for Hebrews' gratitude. For covenant con texts see Deut. 4:20>34>37; Josh. 24:5-7, 17 . In later narratives: Judg . 2:1-3, 12; 6710, I]; I Sam . 10:18-19; I Kings 8:51, 53; 9:9 = 2 ehron. 7:22. ef. 2 Kings 17:7, ]6; Neh . 9:9-12. In the Psalms, it occurs thus: Pss. 78 passim; 80:8; 81 :6-7; 105:34-39; 106 passim; 136:lQ -1 6. Such mentions recur through the Prophets, from the d ivided monarchy through to the Babylonian exile and beyond . So, Hos. 12:9-10, 13; 13:4; Amos 2:10-11; ]:1 -2; 9:7. In terms of their messages of judgment, Mic. 6:3-4; Jer. 2:6-7; 7=22-26; ]]:3-5,7; 32:20-23; 34:13; Ezek . 20:5 ' 10; and Dan. 9:15 (iii) Knowledge of the r.xodus credited to others. So, from the plains of Moab into the period of the judges: Num . 22:5, ll; 23 :22; 24:8; Josh . 2:10; 9:9; JUdg.11:13 ( iv) As an anciellt date line. Or, nothing like (this or that) since [sraelleft Egypt. In narrative works, see Judg. 19:30; 1 Sam . 2:27; 8:8; ]2:6-8; 2 Sam . 7=6, 23 24 (= I ehron . ]7:5,2] -22);] Kings 6:1; 8:16 (= 2 ehron. 6:5); 2 Kings 2]:15. [n the Prophets, cf. Jer. 16:]4- ]5; 237-8; 32:30. (v) Compared to latercvcnts: 1 Sam. 1):6; Isa . ]] :6; Mic. 7=l5 . As a long-past

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event: 1 Kings 8:9, 1.1 (= 2 ehron. ):10; 6:11); Pss. 114 passim; 135=8,9; Hos. 2:15; 11:1; Hag. 2:5. Thus t he phenomenon of an exodus-deliverance recurs all over the biblical corpus, in law/covenant, in historical narratives, in the poetry of the Psal ms, and in the messages of the prophets, at all dates in the biblical saga from Sinai itself and the plains of Moab down into the Persian period. If there never was an escape from Egyptian servitude by any of Israel's ancestors, why on earth invent such a tale about such humiliating origins? Nobody else in Near Eastern antiquity descended to that kind of tale of community beginnings. That question has been often enough posed, and the sheer mass and variety of postevent references gives it sharp point. The plain fact is that the question cannot be answered in the negative without leaving an insoluble crux. But if the fact of some Hebrews escaping from Egypt be granted, it does not, of course, follow that everything said about the exodus in our data is automatically original, part of the actual event. Large plants can grow from very small seeds. Without other clear indications, the authenticity or originality of the features attributed to the event in Egypt and Sinai cannot be object ively verified or judged, but merely discussed endlessly and mainly fruitlessly without definitely established results until the cows come home (as scholars have done this last two hundred years or so, down to the present). Therefore, recourse to independent sources is indispensable.



The period of Hebrew servitude prior to the exodus and the latter's starting point are both set in Egypt . To what extent (if at all) do our external sources endorse the factuality of an Egyptian setting and starting point, rather than "Egypt" being used as a novelistic setting, where no Hebrew had been? Or, if an Egyptian setting is to be accepted, are there any chronological indicators in either the biblical or outside source materials as to date(s) of the episode or of the record of it?



The setting presented in Exod. 1- 14 is indubitably that of Egypt's East Delta, whence the Hebrews are shown going directly in to the Sinai Peninsula first of all. Background data may well be drawn from Egypt over:lIJ, but for locating the


biblical Hebrews and their movements "on the ground" in Egypt we are restricted to the East Delta zone geograph ically. This fact imposes further severe limitations upon all inquiry into the subject. The Delta is an alluvial fan of mud deposited through many millennia by the annual flooding of the Nile; it has no source of stone within it. Mud, mud and wattle, and mud -brick structures were of limited duration and use, and were repeatedly leveled and replaced, and very largely merged once more with the mud of the fields. So those who squawk intermittently, "No trace of the Hebrews has ever been found" (so, of course, no exodus!), are wasting their breath. The mud hovels of brickfield slaves and humble cultivators have long since gone back to their mud origins, never to be seen again. Even stone structures (such as temples) hardly survive, in striking contrast to sites in the cliffenclosed valley of Upper Egypt to the sou th. All stone was anciently shipped in from the south, and repeatedly recycled from one period to another. Thus Eighteenth Dynasty blocks were reused in Ramesside temples; Ramesside temples were replaced under later dynasties largely by reuse of existing stones again; and periods through Saite, Ptolemaic, Romano- Byzantine, and Islamic times repeated the process. In more recent centur ies, limestone has been largely burtled for lime, and harder stones often reused for millstones or whatever. Scarce wonder that practically no written records of any extent have been retrieved from Delta sites reduced to brick mounds (whose very bricks are despo iled for fertilizer, sebakh), with even great temples reduced to heaps of tumbled stones. I And in the mud, 99 percent of discarded papyri have perished forever; a tiny fraction (ofJate date) have been found carbonized (burned) - like some at Pompeii but can only be opened or read with immense difficulty. A tiny fraction of reports from the East Delta occur in papyri recovered from the desert near Memphis. Otherwise, t he ent irety of Egypt's administrative records at all periods in the Delta is lost (fig. 32B); and monumental texts are also nearly nil. And, as pharaohs never monumentalize defeats on temple walls, no record of the successful exit of a large bunch of foreign slaves (with loss of a full chariot squad ron) would ever have been memorialized by any king, in temples in the Delta or anywhere else. On these matters, once and for all, biblicists must shed their naive attitudes and cease demanding "evidence" that call11ot exist. Only radically different approaches can yield anything whatsoever. "Archaeology" that limits its bJinkered evidence solely to what comes out of modest holes dug in the ground can have no final say in the matter.

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Instead, we must consider successive themes in t he existing Hebrew texts and see what background is available from our overal! external sources.

(i) Conscription of Foreign Labor in Egypt for Building Work, Etc.

In the Old Kingdom ("Pyramid Age") in the third millennium there is as yet no trace of foreign labor be ing used for building projects. At times of the annual Nile flood, agricultural workers could be impressed to help shift building stones from quarries to the sites by roUers on the ground (as later) and mainly by water; brick accounts are known. In the Midd le Kingdom (early second millennium), especial!y in the later Twelfth and into the Thirteenth Dynasties, an increasing number of Semites came into Egypt from Canaa n, as slave tribute from local rulers, by purchase th rough merchants, by captu re as prisoners of war, or by immigration. Bu t their roles in Egypt were mainly domestic in large households, or cultic in the employ of a temple. The varied and detailed brick accounts then yield no hint of foreigners being so employed. In the New Kingdom things changed. 2 For over 350 years (ca. 1540-1170), from their conquest and repeated campaigns in Canaan and Syria, Egypt's ki ngs brought back batches of prisoners regularly, sometimes in considerable numbers. Besides domestic, cultic, and artisanal duties as before, the new accessions of manpower were employed to cultivate land, and could be used in building projects. In brick making, the most famous example comes from a scene in the tomb chapel of the vizie r Rekhmire of circa 1450 . It shows mainly foreign slaves "making bricks for the workshop-storeplaces of the Tem ple of Amun at Karnak in Thebes" and for a building ramp. Here, labeled "captures brought-off by His Majesty for work at the Temple of [Amun ]," hence serving as forced labor, Semites and Nubians fetch and mix mud and water, strike out bricks from brick molds, leaving them to dry and measuring off their amount. And al! is done under the watchful eye of Egyptian overseers, each with his rod. As many have observed, it offers a vivid visual commentary on part of what one may read in Exod . 1:1I - 14 and P _2 1. J Close account was kept of numbers of bricks produced, and targets were set, as in the Louvre leather scrol!, Year 5 of Ramesses II, 1275. The fo rty "stablemasters" (jun ior officers) of this document had each a target of 2,000 bricks, clearly to be made by men under them with group foremen . These officers fulfil led the role of the /loges'illl, "overseers," of Exod. 5:6. One official smugly reco rds : "Total, 12 building-jobs. Also, people are


making bricks in their spells-of-duty(?) . . .. They are making their quota of bricks daily" (cf. 5:8, 13-14, 18-19) .4 Besides concern for amounts and targets, straw for inclusion in mud bricks (5:7, 18) was a theme in contemporary Egyptian papyri. In a slightly tongue-in-cheek passage, posted in a death trap of a place, an official is depicted complaining: "There are no men (here) to make bricks, and no straw in the district (either)." The straw (modern tibn) had an organic acid content that made the clay more plastic to work, and stopped shrinkage in the resulting bricks. The ancients did not know the chemistry, but they appreciated the effects. ~ The use of two levels of oversight is also endemic in our sources: the Egyptian main overseers and (subject to them) the "native" foremen of the work groups themselves. 6 In other building work we find other foreigners being exploited under Ramesses [I. Thus we read of grain rations to be given to "the soldiers and the Apiru -folk who drag stone to the great pylon (gateway) of Ithe Temple) of Ramesses II Beloved of Maat."7 Far south in Nubia the king commanded the viceroy Setau to raid the western desert oases, "to take captives from the land of the Libyans, to build in the Temple of Ramesses II" in Year 44 (ca. 1234) .8 South, west, or northeast in his realm, this pharaoh was prepared to conscript foreigners mercilessly if need be. The Hebrews were not only to make bricks but to undergo "hard labo r in all kinds of field-work" (Exod. 1:14) . Others too suffered this. In one document, two agricultural workers fled from a stablemaster "because he beat them." In another, one Syrian sblVe had been conscripted by an army officer from his service as land worker for the temple of Thoth at Memphis. 9 And so on. In later periods after the New Kingdom, Levantines still were to be found in Egypt, but in far fewer numbers, and not usually as serfs in brick making and land tillage.

(ii ) "All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy"

When Moses requested time off from work for his people to celebrate a feast, the pharaoh was not amused (Exod . 5:1 -4) . From what we know of Egypt at that time, scarce wonder. Detailed work-registers record the days spent at work and the days off of the royal workforce that constructed the tombs in the Valleys of the Kings and Queens in Western Thebes, either by the whole crew (major religious festivals, as Moses asked for) or by individuals. The reasons given for the latter can vary considerably, but often include a man "making offering to his god."IO Sometimes either an individual or the whole crew were absent for several days at a time; so, one is tempted to sympathize just a little with Moses' pharaoh - "not another holiday, you lazy lot!" So, not least from the thirteenth

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and twelfth centuries, the Egyptian documentat ion portrays practical usages and an atmosphere very comparable to what we find in Exod . I and 5.

(tii ) The Plagues

Among the most graphic narratives in the exodus account is the contest between Moses and the pharaoh and his magicians. The first round, a "preliminary bout," was with the latter (Exod . 7:8-12), where both sides showed ability to turn their rods or staffs into snakes. Tricks of this kind with snakes (including the cobra) are known in Egypt dow n to modern times. If charmed and deftly pressured at its neck muscles, the Egyptian cobra can be rendered immobile (cataleptic), becoming a "rod" - and, of course, be released. l l The fuller contest t hat embodied ten successive plagues is a larger scenario (7:14-12:)0), much studied. Here we must stick firmly to dearly tangible data. First, we find a sequelJCe of ten plagues, which (as several commentators have pointed out) divide into three threes, with the tenth as a separate climax. Table 17. The Plagues Themselves River as blood Frogs exit and die ) . Mosquitoes


4. Flies 5. Field catt le plague 6. Blains, men, and beasts 10. Death of the Egyptian firstborn

7. Hail, flax, barley only 8. Locusts in and out 9. Thick darkness

The first three concern the waters and their denizens (fish, frogs, mosquitoes breeding); the second three affect people, field cattle, then people and cattle (including indoors); the third three were airborne: hail, locusts, thick darkness. The tenth affected only a narrow spectrum (people and animals, firstborn). Some have compared and contrasted the poetic summaries of the plagues in Pss. 78:44-51 and 105:28-)6, each naming only seven plagues, with the Exodus account, often to the detriment of the latter. Is it possible to recognize the phenomena, and evaluate the outwardly different sets of plagues? The phenomena inherent in the plagues themselves, understood against what is known of the Nile and Egypt, enable a dear answer to be given . We are dealing with realia here: river, fish, frogs, insects, cattle, humans, and not a fan tasy world of (e.g.) dragons, monsters, genies, Liliths, or other plainly mythical beings, and in a real country (Egypt), not an imaginary place unknown to geography. Therefore it is in order to inquire into a clearly reddened Nile; into



why fish, then frogs should die; and into the nature of the insects and subsequent diseases and disasters. Of all the modern treatments of the phenomena in the text, by far the most straightforward was given by G. Hort some time ago. From known geographical, climatic, ecological, microbiological, and medical phenomena, she was able to demonstrate a clear sequence of events through the ancient Egyptian year, from July/August (time of the annual Nile flood ) through to the following March/April (ea rly crops), as well as interconnections between the first two plagues and the fourth, then between the second and fourth/fifth, and between the fourth and sixth. In the calendar the seventh to ninth then followed to complete the main series. Thus the first six and the eighth plagues resulted (in physical terms) from unusually high rainfall where the Nile(s) rose, followed by an extremely high flood down the lower Nile valley through Egypt, and resultant effects. From the known geographical/scientific data, old errors can be discarded. Thus, too Iowa Nile (as before the new flood) gives green water, not red ( Hon 1,90-9 1). Only an extrahigh flood would have brought a suitably large and intense amount of very red earth (Roterde). We summarize the details: The absence of plagues 4-7 from Goshen, Hort could account for, because the Hebrews (and Goshen) were mainly in Wadi Tumilat, away from the conditions that gave rise in the main Nile Valley to the swarms of insects of plague 4 that would carry t he blights of 2 to cause 5 and 6. In the case of plague 7, Hort ind icates that such storms in t he early spring come st raight north to south off the Mediterranean and up the Nile (so, bypassing Goshen/Wadi Tumilat). As for plague 8, the locusts had followed a known course of their species and were blown from east to west (latitude of Sinai) into Egy pt. Hort suggested understanding wah-yum as "sea wind" (i.e., from the north) rather than "west wind," and wished to emend yam-suph to yemin, "east." The latter is needless, as the yummph is, in any case, east of north Egypt; a northwest wind would fit the general context, however wah-yam be construed. Her explanation of "firstborn" as for "first fruits" has no basis in the context; what happened in the tenth plague if treated as at all historical would be regarded as a miracle by believers of any stripe, and as an exaggeration or "strange event" by nonbelievers of any kind; but it cannot be used to prejudge the preceding nine plagues - they are too closely tied to tangible realities to permit any such pranks. 12 It is worth remarking that Egypt knew other high Niles, such as under Sobekhotep Vlll (ca . 1700) and Osorkon III (ca . 787-759) that flooded the Theban temples, and one under Taharqa (690-664) that passed safely; these were less destructive than that of Exodus. In the Middle Kingdom work, Admonitions of an Egyptian Sage (its modern title), the writer describes Egypt's woes in a time of misery under an inept king, and remarks, "See, the River (Nile) is

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Table 18. Sequenced Nile Plagues Pheno mena

Calen dar Plagues; No., Type/DeK r iption, Interpretation Exod. refs.
7" " ' 24

Ho rt ref.

July/A ug.

.. River, to "[,10<:><1." Extreme high flood [,...c;ou:I<' of

cxtrahcavy rains in Nil ... so u re... r('giollS; brings mas:l<'s of Roterde "Ius J1agdlatl'5; > red color, oxygen fluctuation, so fish die ;md rot, breeding ground fo r infc'<:tions.

1,87' 95198


, Frogs swarm mill die. In$("CIS brillg Badll", (mflrmo)

to rotting fish, infects frogs, who mass migrate onto


J, 95 ' 98

land and di ... , carrying infection into land and h... rb age. Ocl./Nov.

,. Insects

swarm. Mosquitoes ow rbreeding, in pools of excessi\'... Nile flood. These bite icgs/feet, fly == Sromoxy, (Not Goshen)



OCI.!Nov. Dec.!Jan.

, Flies ,MinN.


J, 99, 101-3

wlcitmlJ$, infection from 2.


,.Plaglle 011 liw5tod: iIJ fields.

Animals Ie't out into fields con tract anthrax from pastur... , her"e ingest (like the fross) and die. (Nol GMhen)

9: 1' 7

1,IOQ' lOl


6. Ski" biai'ls, Jr''''''m, mullivesrock (ilJ(loon:). BiUen by th ... Stomoxys wlciinws fl ies., causing a (nonfatal)
skin anthrax. Cf. 4. (Not




,. Hllil Oil f1ax mill barley (100 soon for wheat fwd
spdt). The lWO latter {fOPS not due then.
(Not Goshen)
8. wct/sts

9: 1 3' 35

II, 48-49


from east, Ihell blow'l flWflY from


11,49- 52

111ese breed in east Sudan; move north up Rc'<l ScaJnorthwest Arabi a; th~S<. ones, blown from cast to west into Egyp1. Northwest wind (i) blows th~rn into nor(h ofU"I'~r Egypt and (ii) JWJy to yam Sllf. /l.brch/Apr.


,. Thick

dlll"k"e~. The initial khmll5ill of the season, whipping up IIOt only sand bUI n,asses of fine, dense, dark Roterde, giving great~r "darkll<'ss~ than just a sand wind.


II, 52 - >-1

110. Dml}, of rite firsrborIJ, }""'lfltlS arul carrie.

11;4-7; 12

II, >-I -5sl



blood, one shrinks from (other) people, and thirsts for water."13 So, such con cepts - and phenomena - were not un known to ancient Egypt. The close correspondence to Nilotic and related conditions demonstrable in the text of Exodus has clear implications. First and foremost, it rules out any attempt to give preference to the poetical retrospects found in Pss. 78 and 105. Their ordering of plagues (and limited choice) does not correspond with physical reality as does Exodus. Thus they are a secondary source, not primary. They have their own poetic merits. Psalm 78 groups first the river as blood, then the impact of insects and frogs, then the impact of hail and storm. Ps. 105 simply gives a set of images: darkness and river blood; insects and hail and storm; locusts and firstborn. Each chooses the "ominous" number of seven plagues, not the prosaically accurate ten . This illustrates a basic literary phenomenon endemic to the ancient Near East, yet one constantly abused by biblicists. When prose and poetry accounts coexist, it is prose that is the primary source and poetry tllat is the secondary celebratiol1. This cannot be overstressed. Thus we turn to the Annals of Tuthmosis III for a clear account of his wars, and not first to his Karnak Poetical Stela. The facts of the Battle of Qadesh are recoverable from the prose sections of the so-called "Poem" (better with Gardiner, "literary record") and the "Bulletin," not from the purely poetical "rhetorical" stelae of Pi-Ramesse. The same is true in Mesopotamia, where (e.g.) the prose repoTts ofTukulti-Ninurta I are our primary source, not the poetic "epic" in his honor. And so on. In precisely the same way, Exod. 1- 14 is the basic source for the exodus, not either Exod . 15 or Pss. 78, \05; and for Deborah, ludg . 4, not ludg . 5 ( for all its considerable value). The account of the plagues in Exod_ 7 - 12 is a well-formulated unity; and (as some traditional critics already admit) it canllot meaningful ly be split up between imaginary sources sllch /, E, or P (for which no physical MSS actually exist!), without making a nonsense of the account of the plagues that only works as a unity. The patterning also speaks for an original compositional unity, as may now be set out in tabular form (see table 19, adapted from Sarna and Hoffmeier). The grouping in three threes shows up very clearly in the organizing of which warnings are given when, and in the commands to Moses! Aaron on where to be. This kind of formulation is created ab initio, from the start - not by fid dling with fragments as with a jigsaw puzzle. Thus chapters 7- 12 at least are best treated as a natural unit within the whole. Exod. 15 is a triumph hymn, a Hebrew reply (so to speak) to the proud triumph hymns of the New Kingdom pharaohs that ostentatiously adorned the walls of Egyptian temples or were blazoned on stelae in the temple courts and beyond.


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Table 19. Articulation in Plague Narrative Plague No.:


Forewarning YES YES


Timing "In morning"

nOlle none

Command Where Station self Go to Pharaoh





"In morning"
none none

Station self Go to Pharaoh 'TOne Station self Go to Pharaoh


7 8 9


"In morning"
1I0llC !lOlle !lone



Finally, the supposed "theolog ical critique" of Egyptian gods and beliefs in Exod . 7-12. This has been proposed on the bas is of Exod. 12:12 and the retrospective Num . )):4 . But there is no stress on any such polemic during the main plagues narrative (7- 12); even Exod . 12:12 is but one single pronouncement on the eve of t he final plague, death of the firstborn (also the context in Num . )):4) . There is far more emphasis on YHWH's role as deliverer, explicit and im plicit (e.g., Exod. 7:) -5; 9:16; \0:1-2; 11:1-8; 12:17; 1j:14-16). Nevertheless, it is fair to comment that the impact of various plagues can be understood as deva luing or denying Egyptian beliefs. A massively unruly and destruct ive Nile flood, red in hue, bringing death, was the opposite of Hapi (deity of that flood), who was normally bringer of new life by his waters. [t also embodied the revived Osiris (green) - whereas virulent red was the color that denoted his enemy and murderer, Seth! Frogs were the symbol of abundance (hence, of prosperity; personified as Heqat), but here again they brought death. The rest (again) threatened or negated the prosperity that Egypt's gods were deemed to give, while the deep darkness eclipsed the supreme sun god, Re or Amen -Re. Pharaoh was traditionally entitled "Son of Re," and h is patron was made invisible, as if in an eclipse of sun or moon (treated as hostile events also) . Death of so many throughout the land (here. of firstborn) would probably seem to Egyptians to have negated the power of the gods completely, and the king's personal and official key role of ensuring their favor. To go much further than this would go into the realm of unjustified subjectivity.14 By contrast, it is stressed repeatedly that YHWH was to bring his people out with "an outstretched arm" or a "strong hand" (cf. Exod . J:19, 20; 6:1 ; I):),


14, 16; 1j:6, ll, 16; 32:ll; retrospectively, Deut. 3:24; 6:21; 9:26, 29; 26:8). This id-

iom was also well known in Canaan (occurring in the Amarna letters, e.g., EA
286:12; 28T27; 288:14), and appe:lrs to be here :l deliberately :ldopted

Egypti:lnism in Hebrew, as a riposte to the ubiquitous pose of Ph:lraoh smiting his enemies and being endlessly entitled "Lord of the strong arm" (l1eb khopesh).1S

(iv) "Exodus": Concept and Practice 16

The concept of an "exodus" (Latin for Gk. exodos), or "going out," represents the reality of "voting with one's feet," or simply leaving one place (where conditions have become intolerable) to go to :lnother. Th:lt kind of solution, for com munity or individual, is well attested from at least the eighteenth century iI.C. onward in the biblical world. Thus tribal groups owing allegiance to the king of Mari (east Syria) tried to em igrate from his control. 17 In the fifteenth century, in Anatolia, some fourteen "lands" and people groups rebelled against the rule of the Hittite king, :lnd moved off to Isuwa - until his successor brought them all backp8 In ancient Libya, in the thirteenth and twelfth centuries, the locals several times tried to move into the Egyptian Delta, seeking new terrain in which to settle, but were successively blocked by kings Sethos J, Merenptah, and (in Upper Egypt also) Ramesses III :lnd VI.19 By the early twelfth century we have also the Sea Peoples (including the Philistines) moving from the Aege:ln world into Cana:lll :lnd also being rebuffed from Egypt.2o And the Arameans moved from the Syrian steppes to take over most of Syria, on both sides of the western bend of the Euphrates, and eventually occupied areas in Mesopotamia .21 In the Nile Valley, way down south, it has been suggested th:lt under Ramesside rule (ca. 1290-1080) and oppressive taxation, much of the Lower Nubian population simply emigrated south to better areas that lay beyond Egyptian control. 22 So the solution for the early Israelites of "moving on," and out of Egypt and her oppression, was not novel, but a well-tried one.

(v) Geograp hy and Logistics (Cf. Map, Fig. 27)

(a) Topography and Conditions

The accounts of the Hebrew exodus from Egypt feature a series of place-names there. The Hebrews were settled in a zone called Goshen, which (i n context) is once called "the land of Rameses" (Gen . 47:6, ll). As slaves, they "built Pithom

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and Raamses as store-cities for Pharaoh" (Exod. 1:l!). And it was from Raamses t hat the Hebrews finally departed east ward, via 'lOt Pithom but Succoth (Exod . 12:37; cf. Num . 33 :3, 5) and on to Etham (Exod. 13:20) . After hovering in the vicinity of three more places (Pi-Hah iroth, Migdol, Baal -Zephon; Exod. 14:1 -4), and crossing between the parted waters of the sea (yam-sF/ph; 14:21 -3 1), they thus left Egypt for the desert of Shur en route to Sinai (16:22ff.). These places deserve concise scrutiny.
(1) Raamses

As conceded almost un iversally, the Hebrew R-'-m-s-s corresponds exactly to Egyptian U-'-m-s-s from which it derives.B This is the proper name Ramesses, used by eleven kings of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Dynasties, circa 12901070. The first of these, Ramesses t, reigned only sixteen months and built no cities. None of the rest fo unded major cities either, with but one exception. He was Ramesses II, grandson of I, who was the builder of the vast city Pi- Uamesse A-lla khtll, "Domain of Ramesses II, Great in Victory,"14 suitably abbreviated to the distinctive and essential element "Ra(a)mses" in Hebrew. In modern t imes, because masses of broken Ramesside stonework were visible in the ruins of San el -Hagar, indubitably Ta nis (Egypt. DjalJe(t), biblical loan), it was long assumed that Tanis had for a time been called Pi-Ramesse in the thirteenth and twelfth centu ries, hence was Raamses . However, much more modern and thorough excavat ion has proved otherwise. Well over a dozen miles south of Tanis, the open countryside around Tell el-Dab'a conceals the foundations of ancient Hat-waret/Avaris, a residence of the Twelfth and Thirteent h Dynasties and Hyksos kings. Immediately north of this, for miles around Khataana-Q antir, t he deceptively flat terra in shrouds thousands of acres of the last remains of PiRamesse/Raamses. The full site appears to be up to six kilometers (almost four miles) long north-south, and over three kilometers (two miles) wide, on recent estimates. When the city was largely abandoned from circa 1130 onward, and t he new (Twenty-First) dynasty needed stone to build great new temples at its capital, Tanis, they simply removed the Ramesside temple stonework from PiRamesse to Tanis for reuse - where its presence was later initially to deceive modern explorers. And the mud brick of most of its nontemple buildings qui etly subsided back into mother earth . Excavatio n has opened up the founda tions of parts of its palaces (including a gold -dusted tloor),25 its extensive stabling for horses and chariotry,26 etc. Geophysical magnetometer and other soundings have shown up the clear ground plans of many more buildings, often of great extentY Here, and here alone, is the basis of a city which, with its workshops and storage magazines for palace, temples, and other institutions,


can well qualify as one of the are-lIIi5kencth, or "store-cities," of Exod . t:1I. In biblical usage, such lIIiskenoth 28 were in effect depots for storage of supplies and revenue paid in kind (grain, oil, wine, etc.), in Egypt precisely as elsewhere in the Near Eastern and eastern Mediterranean worlds. Cf. map, fig. 28. The history of the city Pi- Ramesse is relevant to ou r inqu iry. North of the old town of Avaris, center of the cult of Seth, in what was his family's homedistrict, Sethos I built a summer palace of which very little has been recovered, other than tilework from a glazed doorway (now in the Louvre).29 This site, Ramesses I I turned into the vast city just mentioned, in his own name, and it remained the East Delta center of pharaonic rule through to Ramesses III, who refurbished it in part, naming one zone after himself. Ramesses IV to VI continued to work there, after which Pi -Ramesse was abandoned as a royal residence circa 1130. When Ramesses VIII made dedication to Seth, it was to him as lord of Avaris, not the Seth of Pi- Ramesse any more. 30 Then the living story of Pi -Ramesse was virtually finished, apart from a minor residual cult of its gods elsewhere. Instead, concurrent with Memphis from 1070, the new East Delta capital was Tanis, and known exclusively as Tanis (Djanet/Zoan). Contrary to Lemche, Tanis never ever bore the name PiRamesse. The Ramesside stonework was principally recycled as scrap stone to build Tanis, and did lJottake the old name thither. 31 The only survival of godsof-Ramesses cults in the fourt h century B.C. was preserved as "rel igiOUS archaeology" (i) at l3ubastis, within the "pantheon" sanctuary of Nectanebo 1[, deeply hidden away from the gaze of everyone except the local Egyptian priests,n and Oi) at Tanis on private statues from the temple, again not accessible (or comprehensible!) to foreigners?) These abst ruse "sources" could not possibly be known to Jewish priests or any other foreigners, at any date. Thus the claims of Lemche and others that Raamses could have been known at a late date to Hebrew writers is also totally baseless. If Raamses (as opposed to Zoan, 1:1nis) had never previously been part of early Hebrew tradition, there would have been no cause to look fo r it or incorporate it later; as with the Iron Age Ps. 78:12, the phrase "field of Zoan" (Egyp. Sekhet-Djanet) would have sufficed . Thus, the occurrence of Raamses is an early (thirteenth/twelfth century) marker in the exodus t radition, and that fact must be accepted.
(2) Pithom and SuCCorl1

Pithom is, again, universally recognized as standing for Egyptian Pi(r)-(A)tulII, "domain (lit. house) of (the god) Atum." Pithom occurs exclusively in Exod. 1:11. Its sole link with any other site in Hebrew is with Raamses, as both were being built by the Hebrews. So these two sites were not necessarily contiguous, yet

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were both accessed by Hebrew brick slaves. However, Pithom was nor on the exodus route east from Raamses/Pi-Ramesse, whereas Succoth was. There is no location for Pithom north of Pi-Ram esse, or on the eastward route to Succoth and onward; so it should be vaguely south of Raamses, and west from Succoth . This "triangle" is a useful gain. For Succoth at least is - again - acknowledged to be the same place as Egyptian Tjeku, which appears on monuments found in the Wadi Tumilat at two sites: Tell er-Retaba and Tell elMaskhuta further east, especially at the latter.J4 In a walled compound and settlement, Tell er- Retaba had a small temple of Ramesses II honoring Atum of Tje lkJu and Seth on its pylon gateway, and a deity, "Lord ofTjeku." A rhetorical stela of Ramesses II was found, besides a twin statue of him and the god Atum. On a fragment found here a Ramesside officer Usimare- nakhte gave his origin as "of Tjekll." Ramesses III also left sculpture here. In each case (except once lost), Tjeku has the "foreign-land" determinative. Thus we learn the following about Tell er-Retaba; (1) it had a temple built and adorned by Ramesses II, further adorned by Ramesses III, plus work by an official of that period. So th is site was active in the thirteenth and twelfth centuries. (2) Its main deity was Atum, the sun god of Heliopol is; its temple was, in principle, a "house (pr) of Atum" or a "Pithom." (3) By the place-name mentioned on its fragments so far, it was either Tjeku (a Succoth) or (with a land sign) within the region ofTjeku . So we have a site of Ramesside date - contemporary with the larest dare for a biblical exodus - that could be a Pithom or a Succoth . It lies southeast from Raamses at Qantir. But which might it be? We now must look at Tell el-Maskhuta, a few miles due east from Tell erRetaba . Here were found the follow ing monuments of Ramesses II's time: a large granite rhetorical stela (as at er-Retaba) and a falcon figure, both dedicated to the Slln god, but as Re-Horakhty rather than Atum; a small piece of a shrine (the rest is now lost, but seen a century ago), mentioning the king as "beloved of the Lord of Tjeku"; a statue of the king's son, Prince RamessesMerenptah, with a figure of Arum -Khopri of Heliopolis; two broken sphinxes of this time, one naming the Semitic god Horon. So far we have here a site which is Ramesside, and a Succoth, again linked with the sun god - a second Pithom/Succoth of the thirteenth century! The early diggings (by Paponot) about 130 years ago revealed that a large, long-known monolithic triad of Ramesses II, Atum, and Re was partnered by a second such monolith on either side of a way; behind them, the way was flanked by the black-granite sphinxes and led to the shrine, and the stela (later used as a Roman foundation}.35 Such was the early temple at this Succoth or Pithom! But which Succoth/Pithom is which? Here external Egyptian sources help liS, as well as later monuments. These show definitively that Tjeku/Succoth was


plllce, II spot on the nlllp, as well as II district. The ostrllcon ODM 1076 is the remllins of a letter written in the name of"llJl the gods of Tjeku," determined with the town sign . Such greetings are USllllJly in the names of gods of towns, more than districts. Papyrus Anastasi VI shows us the area Tjeku in relation to a Pithom (now, of Merenptah). The Shasu of Edom, going from east to west, pass "the Fort of Merenptah which is (in) Tjeku" to reach "the pools of Pithom of-Merenptah which is/are (in) Tjeku." Papyrus Anastasi V has two runaways from Raamses going past the "keep" ofTjeku and then eastward by the fort of Tjeku and a Migdol of Sethos I. These too are specific places in an area Tjeku. Then in the same papyrus, a deputy of Tjeku requests of his colleague about some men: "Bring them to me at Tjeku!" - which can only be a particular place (fort, settlement), not a whole area .)61 mlly ask someone to meet me in Chester (town), but not in Cheshire (county)! So, for the Ramesside period, thirteenth century, we have a Tjeku regio n containing a placeTjeku, with a fort, a keep west of it, and a place Pithom and pools farthe r west still. All this would fit excellently with a Succoth/Tjeku lit Tell el -Maskhuta, and a Pithom at Tell erRetaba farther to its west . Later evidence virtually clinches this solution for certain. The Saite to Ptolemaic periods (seventh to first centuries B.C.) hllve produced inscriptions from Tell el -Maskhuta thM consistently mention a temple of Atum there, and several times use the town determinative, i.e., Tjeku town is lit Tell el-Maskhuta. A statue found there addresses "every priest who shall enter the Temple of Atum residing in Tjeku," which requires that Tjeku be the precise place in which that temple is situated . The stela of Ptolemy II from Tell e1-Maskhuta repeatedly nllmes Tjeku lind Atum the god of Tjeku, but Pithom only twice in passing. The statue of Ankh-renp-nufer mentions the temp/eof Alum, Lord of An/Tjeku, but not the town of Pithom, as was mistakenly thought . With which fact, we have no evidellce whatsoever that Pithom (Egyptian or biblical) was ever at Tell el -Maskhuta, whereas Tjeku (Succoth) clearly was. Finally, there is the Roman milestone found at Tell el -Maskhuta, which reads: "9 [Roman] miles on the road from Era [Pithom l to Clysma [Suez]" (fig. 32C). Era is short for (H)ero(onpolis), the Latin name (via Greek) for Pithom. This was evidently the ninth Roman mile, west to east, from Pithom, reached at Tell el-Maskhuta (Tjeku/Succoth) on the road out to Suez (Clysma). And, as Gardiner pointed out so long ago, Tell er-Retaba (as Pithom) is almost exactly nine Roman miles from Tell el -Maskhuta. Need one Slly more? Only that the exodus texts have the Hebrews working at Raamses (Qantir area) and Pithom (Tell er-Retaba), about fifteen to seventeen miles apart, and the exodus going direct from Pi -Ramesse (Raamses) east-southeast to Succothrrjeku (Tell el -Mllskhuta), and on eastward . In the light of the tota l evidence, we can firm ly dismiss the erroneous


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claims by some writers that Tell el-Maskhuta was Pithom, and that it was only inhabited from the Saite period (seventh century) onward. Hence the Exodus narrative would reflect only conditions of the late period, not New Kingdom t imes. The Ramesside, Saite/Ptolemaic, and Roman data combine to scotch these palpably false claims completely. We now have 011 the full faas a sensible Late Bronze geography for the initial part of the exodus route. One may further note, if wh imsically, that just as the Hebrews took two days to transit from Raamses to Succoth and from Succot h out to Etham (Exod . 12:37; 13:20; Num . 33:5-8), so also did the two slaves in Papyrus Anastasi V who ran away from PiRamesse on the third month of Shomu, day 9, continuing (on 3rd Shomu 10) past the keep of Tjeku (Succoth) and then likewise east; they had a two -day trip to that zone, like their Hebrew precursors. Cf. fig . 28.

(3) Etham
This place "on the edge of the wilderness" (Exod. 13:20) has so far defied historical geog raphers, whether Egyptological or biblical, to find its location. [t has to be farther east than Tell el -Maskhuta, but probably not beyond the clutch of places near the yam -suph, itself most likely the BaJlah/Timsah/Bitter Lakes region . Once through the yallJ -sllpli, the Hebrews turned south via the "Desert of Etham"to go to Sinai (NulTI . 33 :6, 8) . Only beyond that line did they really leave Egypt in the desert ofShur and the edges of Sinai . It cannot be a Khetem (Egyptian word meaning "fort"), because Hebrew soft 'aleph cannot t ranscribe Egypt ian kli. [t must have been very close to the Bitter Lakes to give its name to the desert opposite, across those waters. Thus it may have been in the vicini ty of modern ismailia. Philologically it may (in Egyptian) have been an "isle of (A)tum," 'i(w)-(JJtm, or a "mound of (A)tum," (i)3(r) -(1)tm, given the frequency of Atum-names in this area .

(4) Pi-Hahiroth, Baal-Zephon, MigdoP1

From Etham the Hebrews "turned back," i.e., back to the northwest, as if to Raamses, whence they had come (to go southwest would have been mean ingless). Then in Exod. 14:1 -2 (in most t ranslations of the Hebrew), the Hebrews were told to camp beforelin front of (I-pllr) Pi- Hahiroth, between Migdal and the yam (sea), to camp opposite Baal -uphon, by the yam (sea). The nearest sea to the east end of Wadi Tumilat is, of course, the former long line of lakes running from north to south from Menzaleh adjoining the Mediterranean down through lakes El -Ballah, Timsah, and those called "Bitter," to within about sixteen miles (twenty kilometers) of the northern shore of the Red Sea



(Gu lf of Suez) at Suez (Clysma). There is some reason to suppose that in the second millennium the waters of the Suez Gulf did link up with the Bitter Lakes, intermittently or otherwise. Thus, even before the cutting of the modern Suez Canal (which destroyed ancient water configurations in this zone), Egypt had a considerable belt of waters between the Mediterranean and the Suez Gulf.38 Cf. fig. 28. The addition of ancient canals orien ted roughly north-south could readily close any gaps in this water barrier, to Egypt's advantage in terms of security. In recent decades modern investigation has revealed traces of such ancient canals.:W One (northern) set of fragments runs from near El -Qantara to just west of Pelusium, with varying sections of canal probably reflecting changes in course at different periods. 40 Another (southern) fragment runs from the north corner of Lake Timsah (east of Ismailia) to the southern edges of the Ballah lakes. In the light of this geographical situation, a group such as the emigrating Hebrews would soon come up against one form or another of this water barrier, barely seven or ten miles east beyond Succoth (Tell el -Maskhuta), presum ably at Etham, in the context, somewhere near Isma ilia. To "turn back" (Heb. sliub) thus implies going back in some form, but not to Succoth - hence, either southwest (mean ingless, as noted) or north, even north -northwest. If so, then to go and halt somewhere along the western flank of the lakes and canals would be to "camp by the sea" (yam). And our cluster of sites would surround them. Pi-Hahiroth has been well interpreted by various scholars as "Mouth of the Hiroth," a word or name for a canal - its mouth would be where it ran into a lake or a Nile branch, in our context where such a channel ran into or out of one of the lakes. At no very great distance north from the Ismailia area, one might posit such a water junction where the discovered south canal fragment left Lake Timsah northward (south option), or else where that canal in due course entered the south end of the southmost of the Ballah lakes, a dozen miles or so northward (north option). That gives us two possible settings for Pi-Hahiroth, and hence for an encampment "by the sea," and in turn for the general locations for Migdal and l3aal-Zephon. We should not look any farther north, otherwise we (and the Hebrews!) would end up in an ancient Egyptian militarized zone (by the north end of the l3allah lakes from Qantara onward). On this basis Migdal would be directly west of the Hebrew encampment "by the sea" that was in front of (just south of?) Pi- Hahiroth; it may have been a fort (cf. its name) up on the El-Gisr ridge. That leaves l3aal-Zephon, "opposite" the Hebrews. In this context, as it cannot be behind them, it most probably should be thought of as just north, in front of them in their limited northward trek, right opposite their advance. In this way they would indeed seem to be "closed in," direction less at this point, a suitable target for Pharaoh's chariot

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squadron (Exod. 14:3) . If so, the south option wou ld theoretically be two or three miles northeast of IsmaiJia; the north option (some six miles farther on) would be some eight or nine miles north of Ism aili a, and about ten to eleven miles south of Qantara and Tell Abu Sefeh (or roughly twelve to fourteen miles from Tell Hebua, the newly preferred site for SilelTjaru, Egypt's fortified northern border crossing). The result (on the south option) is to set Pi-Hahiroth at the south end of the south canal and Migdal west of it on the ridge, and perhaps the same as the Migdol of Seth os I of Papyrus Anastasi Y.13aal -Zephon would be not much farther north. The result (on the north option) would be to set Pi-Hahiroth at the north end of the south canal, Migdal west of it, as a companion fort to the Sethos I Migdol, and 13aal-Zephon correspondingly farther north, within (say) a few miles south of Qantararrell Abu Sefeh up to ten miles from Tell Habua/Sile. Then the famed crossing of the parted waters of the "sea" would be placed somewhere in the north of Lake Timsah or south part of southernmost Lake(s) 13alJah. Once through, on the east side, the Hebrews were in the desert of Shur (Exod. 15:22), in its fuJI extent adjoining the main north route into Egypt (cf., e.g., Shur on the east border of Egypt, 1 Sam . 157; :q:8), and southward becoming the desert of Etham, opposite the zone of Isma ilia (cf. Num. 33 :8). Precise locations would depend on future excavations in local tells kind enough to yield inscriptions that would dearly identify them .41 What is given above is necessarily theoretical at present, but serves simply to indicate that the existing Exodus narratives fit readily into t he general East Delta topography as presently known.
(5) Goshetl

Two topographical matters may be briefly considered, the western and eastern extremes of "Israel in Egypt." First, in Gen. 46:29 Joseph wellt to Goshen to welcome his family into Egypt and then to court (47:2-4); they were then assigned land in Goshen/land of Rameses (Gen . 47:6, II). As Rameses and Raamses are identical terms, Goshen may have included terrain near Ro-waty and Avaris, t he Middle Kingdom and Hyksos precursors of Pi-Ramesse. There is reason to include part of Wadi Tumilat in Goshen by the exodus period (cf. above, on plagues), hence its full extent probab ly included good pastureland south from Avaris, terrain south across the west end of the tongue of steppeland, and part of Wadi Tumilat (where the Hebrews worked on Pithom).
(6) The "Sea," Yam Suph

Second, there has been much discuss ion over both the location(s) of yam mph and its nature. For the traditional translation "Red Sea" - based upon the



Latin Vulgate, which merely follows the Greek translation (Septuagint, LXX) there is no warrant whatever in the Hebrew text. Suph never meant "red ." There are clear passages in Hebrew that do give its meaning: reeds/rushes, marsh(plants) . Compare (as many have) Exod. 2:3-5, a reed basket concealed amid the reeds along the Nile's banks; [sa. 19:6-7, a threat that reeds and rushes will shrivel, and so the plants along the Nile. Therefore, as is generally admitted, yam suph may fairly be rendered "sea/lake of reeds." Then, in modern study, suph was compared to Egyptian rjuf, "m arsh-plantslreeds/papyrus." But not too long ago, F. Batto suggested a dramatic alternative: not "sea of reeds" but "sea of the End" (soph), out to the end of the world. 42 However, the reasons for this and against sllph, "marsheslreeds," have proven to be a mirage. The LXX translation "Red" is simply an interpretation (not strictly a translation!) of dubious origin, and has no inherent authority. Contrary to Batto, Egyptian tjuf does not apply solely to freshwater papyrus, but to reeds and rushes generally. Reeds tolerant of salt water (halophytes) grow and flourish in and around the lakes (Menzaleh, Ballah, Timsah, Bitter) that span the north -south line between the Mediterranea n and Suez. 41 Careful study of tjuf and suph by Ward has shown clearly that Hebrew suph could not be borrowed from Egypt ian tjuf; it would have been zuph, in that case. 44 In its consonants, Egyptian tjllf could certainly derive from Sem itic suph, as Egyptian tj was regularly used to transcribe the Semitic/Hebrew s that we call samekh. But the move into Egypt ian would have come from Semitic when there was still a middle w (not just vowel u), before the late second millennium . So, both words (Egyptian and Semitic) for reeds/marshes and their plants were in use in parallel by the thirteenth century. The suggested meaning "end" is superfluous and irrelevant . The more so, as (contrary to Batto and other biblicists) the ancient Near East did 110t historicize myth (i .e., read it as an imaginary "history") . In t:1ct, exactly the reverse is true - there was, rather, a trend to "mythologize" history, to celebrate actual historical events and people in mythological terms. Compare the growth of legends about "Sesostris" or about the Hyksos kings in Egypt; the growth of traditions about Sargon of Akkad; or the divinization of Dumuzi in Mesopotamia, among others.45 The term yam mph is also applied to the Gulf of Suez and to the Gulf of Aqaba, which flank the Sinai Peninsula. For the Gulf of Suez, cf. Num. 3PO - II, south of Etham, Marah, and Elim. For the Gulf of Aqaba, cf. Num. 21:4; also Num. 14:25, Deut. 1:40, 2:1, and perhaps Jer. 49:21. All other allusions are to the original yam supl! of the exodus at Pi -Hah iroth. In the cases of the two gulfs, we have nothing more than extension of usage. Going from north to south, one passed a series of stretches of often salty water, and on arrival at the area of later Suez, here was another long piece of water, stretching into the hazy distance (as


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did Menzaleh, up north) . So it was simply taken as being yet another installment of the collective yam suph. Across the other side of Sinai, an analogous judgment was made; here was ,mother long body of water stretching out south into the haze or the horizon like Menzaleh or that at Suez. Nothing more sophisticated than that need be assumed. Compa re the extension of the Greek term "Red Sea" to cover (at one time) the Perso-Arabian Gulf, Arabian Sea, and Ollr present Red Sea . Or the word "Asia," from a small Roman province in what is now Turkey, is now used to cover everything from the Bosporus to Japan. Thus, after crossing the lakes section of yam mph (be it Ballah, Timsah, or Bitter), the Hebrews (if headed sOllth) would go through the Shur/Etham desert past the Etham ( Ismailia) zone, on past the latitude of Suez, the three days' march (thirty-six to forty -five miles at twelve to fifteen miles per day) to Marah, Elim, then (again) yam suph. This was simply a stop by the east (Sinai) shore of the Suez gulf; on the geography, see further below. So, there is no basic problem in both crossing a yam suph and then passing more of it later. 46

(b) Danegeld and Logistics

It is impractical to comment here on every incidental detail of the exodus narratives. But in passing, t wo points ra ised by others may usefully be amended . First, it has been suggested that a little-known Egyptian ostracon refers "to the Apiru, engaged in const ruction work at the city of Pi - Ramesses." It indeed mentions the Apiru, but simply as bringing together stones under Egyptian military supervision, no location bei ng mentioned. It is a Strasbourg ostracon, hence certa inly from Thebes, and very likely from the precinct of the Ramesseum, the great memorial temple of Ramesses 1[.47 [t is most unlikely to hail from Pi-Ramesse; but just as the Israelites had to do brickwork labor in the East Delta, so these Apiru (like those at Memphis) had to do involuntary service in assembling stone blocks for building work. Secondly, the case of Exod. 3:21 -22; In; and ]2 :35-36. Here the Hebrews were to use the Egyptians' desire to be rid of their "pestilential" clients and their deity's plagues by asking parting gifts from them of silver, gold, and clothing (d. 12:33 -36 in particular); almost a case of "we'll give you anything to be rid of you!" Buying off a deity's wrath (especially against health) is well enough known in the thirteenth century. Draftsman Nebre promised a stela for his son's healing, and (seeking forgivennes5) the sculptor Qen asked people to offer beer to his angry goddessY' Latterly, Malamat cited the Elephantine stela of King Setnakht (ca . 1185) as a parallel to Exod . 3, 11 , and 12. But here, in the light of Seidlmeyer's new collation of the text, the meaning is not quite the same.


What we find is that Setnakht vanquished rebels (Egyptian) who had tried to buy in "Asiatic" warriors with silver, gold, copper, and clothing; but, defeated, these people dropped the goods and Aed .49 That the Egyptians would pay Semitic foreigners to get their way is the only point of contact here, except for a goods list closely parallel with those in Exod. ):22, 12:)5 in content (except for copper) and order (silver before gold). Finally in this section we turn briefly from questions of "where" to "how many." For the last century or more, com mentators have fought shy of the statement that "about 600,000 went out on foot, plus women and children" (Exod. 12:)7), with its seeming implication of an exodus of two million people or so, along with parallel census figures in Num. ]- 2, ) - 5, and 26. For a long time now there has been a widespread recognition that, in the biblical text, the question of the long-term transmission of numbers presents the same kind of phenomena as in the rest of the biblical world. In the biblical texts, the actual words for "ten(s)" and "h undred(s)" are not ambiguous, and present no problem on that score; the only question (usually) is whether they have been correctly recopied down the centuries. With 'eiepli, "thousand," the matter is very different, as is universally accepted . [n Hebrew, as in English (and elsewhere), words that look alike can be confused when found without a clear context. On its own, "bark" in English can mean the skin of a tree, the sound of a dog, and an early ship or an ancient ceremonial boat. Only the context tells us which meaning is intended. The same applies to the word(s) 'Ip in Hebrew. (]) We have 'c1eplJ, "thousand," which has clear contexts like Gen . 20:]6 (price) or Num . ):50 (amount).13ut (2) there is 'eleph for a group - be it a clan/family, a (mi litary) squad, a rota of Levites or priests, etc. For groups in the Hebrew text, compare (e.g.) Josh . 22 :]4 end, Judg . 6:]5, ] Sam. ]0:]9, Mic. 5:2, etc. And ()) there is 'Ip, a leader, chief, or officer, with a second vowel II, giving 'aI/1Ipl!, but that vowel is not always expressed by a full vowel-letter (w), leaving a consonantal form identical with above words I and 2. 50 So the question has been asked by many: Are not the "six hundred three thousmld five hundred fifty people" in such passages as Num. 2:)2 actually 60) families/squads/clans, or leaders with 550 members or squads commanded? Or some such analogous interpretation of the text? It is plain that in other passages in the Hebrew Bible there are clear exam ples where 'e1eph makes no sense if translated "thousand"but good sense if rendered otherwise, e.g., as "leader" or the like. So in 1 Kings 20:)0, in Ahab's time a wall falling in Aphek could hardly have killed 27,000 men; but 27 officers might well have perished that way. In the previa LIS verse (29) we may equally have record of the Aramean loss of 100 infantry officers in one day (with concomitant other losses?), rather than the loss of 100,000 troops overall.

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Back in 1906 Petrie suggested that the individual tribal figures in the two census lists in Num . 1 and 26 represented (e.g.) in Reuben ( 1:21), not 46,500 men, but 46 families ("tents") of 500 people (averaging up to 9 people to a tent; a couple and 7 children or whatever) . So, as a resu lt, his figure for the party that migrated to Sinai and Canaan becomes about 5,500 people (the sum of the 100S in the tribal list of Num. I) in 598 tented families (sum of the "thousands" in Num . I) . Then the traditional 60},550 arose from 598 'e1eph (family) and 5 'e1eph (thousand) 550 being run together as 598 + 5 "" 60} "thousand" and 550 men . However, he could not account for the numbers of Levites and various other figures in Exodus and Nu mbers. Thereafter, Mendenhall (1958) took a similar line, interpreting the rogue 'e/ephs as military squads under leaders; his resultant figu re for the Hebrews leaving Egypt was 20,000 plus. But Sarna (1987) objected that the figures were for clans, not just military squads. Clark (1955) took the 'e/ephs in question to be leaders; h is resultant calculations led to a total of 140,000 people emigrating. Wenham likewise (1967) opted for an 'e/eph mea n ing leader in these contexts. Like Clark, he incorporated the figures for Leviticus into h is solution, but wit h q ueries on various points. He o pted for a body of some 72,000 migrants. Most recently, Humphries (199 8, 2000) has brought a more rigorously mathematical approach to these figures, starting with the modest figure of 27} Israelites to be redeemed in excess of the number of Levites (Num . }:46), and proceeding to establish appropriate formulae in terms of birthrate, etc. The end result is 598 t roops (squads) consisting of 5,500 men (averaging about 9 men each, comparable with what is found in, e.g., the Amarna letters) at the first census (Num. 1-2) and 596 squads numbering 5,7}0 men later (Num . 26). At a later period, the 598 + 5 'eleph gave the 60},550 men of Num. 1- 2, and the 596 + 5 'elepIJ gave the 601,7}0 men of Num . 26. The Levites came out at about 1,000 men in twenty-one rotas of about 50. The emigrants from Egypt to Canaan would then total about 20,000 to 22,000, close to Mendenhall's result. So, in Iron IA Canaan, a population of 50,000 to 70,000 by ll50 might have included 20,000 early Israelites .51

(v i) The Way to Mo unt Sin ai and Some Ecology

Over the years there has been lively controversy as to where the Israelites went next, once the yam suph had been passed, and over the related matter of the location of Mount Sinai/Horeb, site of the giving of the covenant ("Law"). But of course, some possibilities would appear to be very unlikely, while others have


much in their favor. And ecological features that appear in the narratives can provide helpful indicators.

(a) Routes: North, Cel/ter, or South?

(I ) North

At one time a case was often made for locating the crossing of yam supl! way up north, at Lake Serbonis, along the Mediterranean coast of Sinai east of the later Pelusium. However, in this day and age, several factors compel rejection ofthis option once and for all.)2 First, whatever else is obscure, the biblical text is crystal clear in excludingthis option. Exodus 13:17-18 states: "When Pharaoh sent the people off, God did not lead them by the way to the land of the Philistines, although it was near(est) - for, God said, 'Lest the people change their mind when they see warfare, and so return to Egypt.' So, God took the people around by the way of the wilderness of t he yam suph, (even though) the Bene-Israel went up armed from the land of Egypt." Even though Israel's able-bodied men had weapons of some kind, and thus could have fought, it is very striking that they were thus stopped from attempting the short route from the northeast Delta straigh t along the Mediterranean coast into southwest Canaan. Instead it was to the wilderness of yam suph that they must turn, to traverse. In which case this yam suph could not be the Mediterranean in any form, Lake Serbonis or otherwise. It must relate instead to either the central zone of Sinai (the Tih limestone plateau) or the southern zone ( mountains and valleys). Which brings us back, geographically, to the long line of lakes from Ballah south to the lesser Bitter Lake, between Qantara and Suez, as already suggested above. A crossing in that broad area would allow northern, central, or southern routes. But what military entity was there, to preclude the Israelites from going the short, quick route? Second, we have very decisive answers to the question just asked, from two nonbiblical sources: the war scenes of Sethos J at Karnak temple in Thebes (with Papyrus Anastasi I) and the results of modern archaeological surveys and excavations along the north coast route. In the war scenes the pharaoh progresses past a long series of forts, settlements, and wells, to go from Sile ("Tjaru") on the Egyptian frontier to the city of Pa-Canaan (virtually certainly Gaza) in southwest Canaan. This series includes ten forts and settlements, as bastions of Egyptian military power along this route. 53 The data here are paralleled by a closely similar list of places from "Ways-of-Horus" (the older name of

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Silerrjaru) to Gaza given near the end of the famous Satirical Letter of Papyrus Anastasi J.54 This includes three names not found in the reliefs, while the latter show several not found in the papyrus. This is typical of ancient listings, where parallel but differently organized sources can often vary in their choices of names listed - just like Num. 33 compared with the narratives in Exodus and Numbers; both are genui ne and complementary, precisely as in many other cases. The surveys and excavations have vividly confirmed the evidence of the war scenes. Here were found some ten clusters of sites in succession along the ancient coast route between the Suez Canal and Raphia (with more again between Raphia and Gaza). Each was centered on a fort surrounded by ancillary buildings and campsites. Three main specimen sites were dug, with traces of a fort at Bir e1-Abd (BEA 10), and of a strong fort (A-289) and a separate administrative center (A-345) at Haruba. 55 At Deir e1-Balah, nearer to Gaza, another Egyptian for t and settlement have come to Iight.)6 The general picture is of initial settlements in the late Eighteenth Dynasty (Ho remhab?), followed by a major reorganization and building of the set of forts and adm inistrative centers as a tight network under Sethos [, at first maintained by Ramesses II. Much later in his reign security was slacker, and under Ramesses III it was still less in evidence. Thus, any attempt al a northern exodus via the heavily militarized coast road in the fi rst half to middle of the thirteenth century would have been suicidal, "out of the frying pan and into the fire." Fu rthermore, there is no necessary link between the Baal-Zephon located at a "Mons Casius" on Lake Serbonis (Ba rdawil) in late sources and the situat ion in the late second millennium; a cult (or cults) of Baal-Zepho ll might have existed anywhere in the East Delta in New Kingdom ti mes. He was certainly honored at Memphis, for exam ple, under Ramesses II. So, if an exodus is to be traced, we are now limited to a central or a southern option. And the present Lake Serbonis probably did not yet exist back in the late semnd millennium. 57
(2) Center

Between the northern coast road with its sand dunes and the rocky massifs of south Sinai we have the broad limestone shield of Et -Tih. It has been described as "the barren Tih Plateau . . . practically devoid of water and vegetation" and "a flat area of limestone and sand . ... Even the wild flora struggle to survive because of the lack of water."}8 Concern ing this area, Bietak remarked: "The middle route along the Milia pass and Nakhl has too few wells to allow a larger body of people and animals to pass. So when the coastal road is closed, the only



possibility to cross the Sinai is in the south along the Wadi Feiran region ."~" Neither the M itla/Nakhl route (the so-called Way of Seir) nor its northern parallel out toward Qadesh-Barnea ("way of Shur") is compatible with the biblical data on the route followed from the original yam slIph to Sinai. There is no second yam suph between the first one and a middle-road choice of "Mounts Sinai" such as Gebel Halal, Gebel Shaireh, Hasham eI -Tarif, or the anachronistic Har Karkom (fifth to third millennia) - unless the hapless Hebrews made a meaningless detour up to the militarized Mediterranean coast and back (suicide trip Mark II). And none of the ecology fits the Tih routes either (see sec. c, next). The Tih middle routes are obligatory for those who favor a "Mount Sinai" in Edom ( near Petra? or Gebel Baghir?) or in Midian/northwest Arabia. They could argue for the second yam supll at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba, but the other route details before it do not fit the conditions across the Et -Tih shield. In short, the middle-route solution (and with it, Edomite and Midianite "Mounts Sinai") appears to be too loaded down with improbabilities and im possibilities to be sustained.
(3 ) The Way SOllth and to Sinai ( Fig. 29 )

That brings us to the remaining option: down Sinai's west coastlands, then east through the mountains and wadis to a southern Mount Sinai, then back up northeastward by Sinai's east coast and desert to Qadesh- Barnea . The following points emerge. ( I) This route steers clear of almost all Egyptian presence, except for the turquoise mines up at Serabit el - Khadim . But the Egyptians did Ilotlive pertnanently at Serabiti they simply sent expeditions out and back for a few weeks only, in the cooler weather of winter. Any Hebrew group coming that far south by AprillMay (or even MaylJune) would miss them completely.60 (2) The Shur desert was also called that of Etham (Num.33:8), in the latitude of the east end of Wadi Tumilat. So, moving through that desert for three days outward (if the middle "way of Seir" is excluded) has to be southward, on past Suez to go farther south along the west coast of Sinai. (3) Passing on via such watering places as Marah (bitter then sweet) and Elim (seventy palms and twelve sources), the Israelites arrived at another yam supl! (Num. 3):10), before traversing a new desert (of Sin) and going on to Rephidim and Mount Sinai. This profile fits that of the known Sinai west coast. The main route down that coast leads south via a series of watering places: Ain Naba (Ghurkudeh), Ayun Musa, the shrubby bed of the watercourse Wadi Sudr, the spring of Abu Suweirah in sandy Wadi Wardan; Ain Hawarah, then well-watered Wadi Gharandel, then on south behind the coastal hump of Gebel


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Hummam across Wlldi (A)tha[ on the one through route to Wlldi Shubeikeh . Here, one turned either southwest down Wlldi Taiyibeh to the sellshore of the Suez Gulf (at Abu Zelimll or Zenima) or up inland and southeast along Wadi Humr. The first option led southeast along the seashore desert plain of E[Markh, and on into the wider expanse of El-Kaa (which runs all the wayro the tip of the peninsu[a).61 From south of E[-Markh several routes ran inland to join with Wadi Feiran and its oasis, bringing the traveler close to Gebel Serba[ and (after a couple days' march) round through Wadi es-Sheikh to the er-Raha plain in fron t of Gebel Musa and Gebel Katrin and its famous monastery. The second option led southeast through upland wadis and then high passes to Gebel Musa's er-Raha plain. In this context both Gebel Serbal and the Gebel Musa complex (i.e., Gebel Musa proper and its side-ridge Gebel Safsafa, plus Gebel Katrin/Gebel ed-Deir) would each have serious claims to being the Mount Sinai/Horeb of the exodus narrative, and both have been vigorously championed from Byzantine times to the present. The key point of comparison between the actual west -coast road just outlined and the biblicll[ sequences in Exodus/Numbers - between the Shur/ Etham desert and a Mount Sinai - is the stopping place again at a yam mph. In our southern-route context this has to be on the west Sinai shore of the Suez Gulf, and hence by common consent the shores at Abu Zel ima (or Zenima) through to EIMllrkh. Once that is grllnted, then the two listed stops bet ween three days in the Etham desert and the second yall! suph - Marah and El imwould correspond to a choice from the watering holes listed (or more), e.g., Ain Naba, Ayun Musa, Ain Hawarah, and Wadi Gharandel; Wadi Sudr and Wadi Wardan (spring, Abu Suweirah) are less important. It is commonly suggested that the well-watered Wadi Gharandel was E[im; th is is possible but not proven . But Marah may have been anywhere from north of Ain Naba down to Ain Hawarah; a choice is impractical, as no detailed account of marching times is given (one month elapsed from the fifteenth of the first month out of Raamses, d. Exod. 12:18,34,37, to moving on the fifteenth of the second month from the second yam suph into the Desert of Sin, Num . 3J:lO-II) . And the three days' distance south to Marah from the crossing of the first yam supl! cannot be established so long as the precise site of that crossing (of several possibilities; d. pp. 261 - 63 above) is uncertain. But a location well north of E[im would be likely, around Ayun Musa, Ain Naba, or even farther north. Out of the Desert of Sin, extending south from Abu Zelima/Zenima, the Hebrews went to Rephidim (via Dophka and A[ush) and then into the Desert of Sinai that included Mount Sinai. Rephidim was scene of two contentions: the Hebrews with Moses over lack of water, and the Israelites versus the Amalekites, who sought to halt their advance - no surprise that they did not wllnt to lose


the lush Feiran oasis to the Hebrews. There is good reason to locate Rephidim somewhere in Wadi Mukattab or in the north part of Wadi Feiran, before one reaches the splendid stretch of oasis in that long valley. A lack of water at Rephidim automatically excludes it from being in the oasis! Striking the water from rock in Horeb was surely at Rephidim, within the area of Horeb, 110tat the spot Mount Horeb = Mount Sinai. Going back a moment, Dophka and Aiush will have been along whichever approach route the Hebrews took out of the coastal Desert of Sin up into Wadis Mukattab/Feiran. As for Mount Sinai itself, there is little at first sight to choose between Gebels Serbal and Musa. Both stand up grandly in their places; neither is the tallest in south Sinai, which honor goes to Gebel Um Shomar, farther south and not a contender. Gebel Serbal is close by the oasis of Feiran, but has no adjacent plain for assembly like that of er-Raha at the very foot of Gebel Musa. Nothing can be based on late Byzantine and monastic traditions either way, and no gen uinely early traditions survive outside the Hebrew Bible. Most of the reasons advanced between Serbal and Musa are captious and inconclusive, and so need not be discussed further. In practical terms, the immediate conjunction of clear space plus impressive mountain at Gebel Musa suits the biblical narrative much better than does Gebel Serbal; the latter's peaks are almost four miles from the wadi bed of Fe iran, the only clear "parking space" there for a group of Hebrews, be it 200, 1,000, 20,000, or even more. Having poor old Moses tramping four miles back and forth up side wadis and up a peak of Gebel Serbal is rather extreme, compared with an immediate ascent into a cOlwenient corner on the upper part of Gebel Musa. In short, certainty is not attainable, but Gebel Musa may lead Gebel Serbal by a short head . With only an overnight stop either way between the Serbal part of Wadi Feiran and the er-Raha plain at Gebel Musa, a number of the Israelites may have used Feiran oasis as additional quarters, especially for their livestock (we do not hear of sheep and goats eating manna!). Poetical passages such as Hab. ):) (with YHWH from Teman and Paran) cannot supersede plain narrative evidence; they are simply florid elaborations of a given theme. Paran is the desert between a southern Mount Sinai and QadeshBarnea, standing for both places and all that they imply; Teman is in Edam (round which the Hebrews went), and may be simply here a synonym for the southlands. Such poetics offer no basis for putting Mount Sinai in Midian or northwest Arabia. And Gebel Sin Bishar (Taset Sudr) in northwest Sinai can be excluded, as it is incompatible with the sequence of the full textual data and the location of the second yam suph stop. So nothing is gained here. It may be helpful to consider the broad correspondences from geography and the Hebrew texts for the itinerary from yam wpl! in Egypt to possible Mounts Sinai. See table 20; cf. fig. 29 .

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Table 20. Topography and Text , Etham to Mount Sinai

(RBR '" Ro b in so n. Bibl;ml ReSC(lfC hes iu Pales /iut [ [18<111; LL "" Le l' sius, Letter"$ [18531 ; PS = Pelrie, Researches ill Silwi (I906j)<>-! Torographic Data Biblical Li sts
Yam suph [ \Valer aossmg SI,llr/t,ila", i1cserl

OTRek Exod. 15; Num. 33:8 Exod. 15:22; Nurn. 33:8 Exod. 15:2J-25; Nurn. 33:8


(Lakes BalUih to S",(JI/ Bitter?)

Suez S<l urlIWllrd. Terrain, RBR, 87-88; gmvdly krr;tin, ps, 5, 7-8.


(No deci sive option)

Marah. Biller, then sweet wat"r

Ai" Naba (Glwrhuk h ). \W II, srnalll'airn s, good water, suppli ed \"l'al<' r for Suez, RBR, 69, 89 Aywi M"SiI. Several springs, small palms, chan nel, barky pal ch, RUR, 90 -91; brackish wa1tr, 4 gro ves of 50/100 palms, much tamari sk, ]'5, 8 Wadi Sml r. Shrubs, RBR, 91-92 TaSi't SUlk (G. Si" Hish",). Peak, E of ro u l~, RBR, 92 Wadi Ward,m. Abu Suw('imh spring lOward shore, RBR, 95-96. Gravelly, bushe~, I'S, 1 0 -11




d ay~


d~~ r1? )

( For Exod. 5:3?)

9 Ait) Haw'lmh. Well, RBR, 95-96; I'S, 205-7

w. Wadi Glummdel. Vegetat ion , pahn s, sprin p ,

brook, RUR, 99-100; ps, 12-13, ftgs. 2-5; 207

Elim, 70 palms, 12 springs

Exod. 15:27; 16:1; Num. JJ:9-

02; u . Wadi Was;l. \Vat~r, palms, tamarisks; RlIR, 1 PS, 14-15, figs. 9, 10


WadilSlw l1eikeh, Taiyil1eh. RBR, 1 04, 105- 6; vegelati o n, 70 palms, PS, 15- 17 s.,a,}JQre, Abu Zeil llima. RBR, 1057; PS, 17 Ei-Markh, ,ie:;err pla;'1 EI-Kifli IQ S. RBR, 106; PS, 18, 20 6. Frt'slr wat ~r u"d~r sand s, PS, 249 Wadil Blflk re", Ki".,,,, or Iowl "1" F"ium; three roules up from w astal Sin ill10 Wadi Feim" proper; RBR, map of Sinai at end Yam >up" II

" " "

NUll). 33:JO Exod. 16:1;1]:1; Nurn. J3:1I-1l

Desert of Sill



'7. WIlIJi Fl'iraIJ, and oasis; Lt, 297-99. 3U' 14; c f. RBR. 126; 1'5, 247-'19, 254-56. figs. 180-8)

Dop/rkail, Ailis/r,
here;t[,OU1 S; (u l'h<e 10 place")

N um 3):1 2-14

(800. '7:1)

Rephit!im (dry lOne before/no rthwe SI of Hessawe o f L<'psius) (Mal/III S;"a;?)

Exod. 17:1. 7- 8; Num3P4- 15

,8 MOI/,tt Serba/. LL, 295-97; RBR. 29 5-96; P5.


'9 WIltJi cj-Sheik/, .

1'5,2)1 -32


294 -95; RBR, 126-27. 215-16;


hod. '9'1 -2; Num3P5-16 h od . 19ff.; Num. 3P5-16':>

Er-Raha plrJilt, Gebel MuSil. LL, '192-93; RBR, 1)0-203 pass im; I'S, 2S0 -54

(MoulIl Sillai ?)

(b) From Sinai to Qadesh-Barnea (Fig. 30)

This last geographical excursion will complete our local journeyings. According to Num. 1O:11 -13, 33, the Israelites left Mount Sinai for three days' travel into the Desert of Paran, and then became contentious, suffering first a lightning strike (?), or "burning" (so, Taberah, 11:1 -3) , and then a fall of quai! that brought plague (Kibroth-Hattaavah, 11:4-34), before they moved on to Hazeroth (11 :35) and went on into the Desert of Paran and on to Qadesh-( l3arnea ] (12:16; 13:26). This corresponds to 33:16 -18 in the final itinerary. Supplementary notices in Deut . 1:1 -2 give a general setting reaching back from the plains of Moab to Hazeroth and Di-Zahab (the latter not visited),64 and cite eleven days as the travel time from Horeb (= Mount Sinai zone) to Qadesh-l3arnea by the eastern ("Mount Seir") route. In terms of geography, the main route eastward out from Gebel Musa (or Gebel Serbal) via Wadi es-Sheikh is along the main Wadi Sa'[ that runs eastnortheast from Wadi Sheikh . lust before Wadi Murra (and Ain Hudhera a few miles farther north), Wadi Sa"1 turns right sharply, to run down some fifteen miles southeast to the coast at Dhahab, often taken to be the Di -Z1hab of Dellt. 1:1. As the small perennial oasis of Ain Hudhera is commonly conceded to be the biblical Hazeroth, the stopping point and trouble spot ofTaberah ("burn ing") and Kibroth-Hattaavah ("crave-graves") will have been at some point before Hazeroth/Ain Hlldhera - perhaps in the hot, dry, weary zone around the bend of Wadi Sa'i and to Wadi Murra. The eleven days from abollt Wadi esSheikh (Horeb/Sinai zone) to Qadesh -l3arnea would correspond quite well to

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the roughly 140 miles up Sinai's east side (via Hazeroth) at a rate of twelvet hirteen miles per day. The further names in Num.3P9 -35 cannot be placed; if Rithm:lh = near Qadesh - B:lrne:l (first arriv:ll), then these names would belong to the trackless forty years' wanderings until ret urning to Qadesh-Barnea via Ezion -Geber (Num. 33:35 -36).

(c) Some Ecological Factors

Water under the sands of the west and east Sinai coastal strips was noted above (tab. 20, no. 14). Moses striking the rocks to produce water in the Horeb and Qadesh -Barnea regions (Exod . 1T1 -7; Num . 20:2 -13) also reflects local geo logical reality. One may cite an amusing incident from back in the 1920S, when an army NCO likewise produced a good flow of water when he accidentally hit a rock face with a spade, to be teased with his companions' cry, "What -ho the prophet Moses!" as Jarvis reported .65 Twice on their t ravels (down to, and up from, Mount Si nai) the Israelites got involved with migrat ing quail. The first time, in the Desert of Sin (west coast; Exod . 16:13), quail alighted one spring evening; the second time, again in the spring (Num. ":)1 -34; date, cf. second month, 10:11), a fli ght of qua il was blown the few miles inland (up the seaward end of Wadi Sa'l?) and fell to the Israelites . It is a fact that quail do migrate via Sinai twice a year. They fly from farther south up to Europe in the spring, going through the Suez and Aqaba gulfs in the evenings (hence their presence on the Sinai Peninsub 's west and east flanks then). But on return from Europe they fly from north to south, landing on the north (Mediterranean) coast in the mornings - which does not correspond with Exodus/Numbers, :lnd would only fit the northern route forthe exodus, already excluded on grounds stated above. So the quails require (springl evenings) a southern exodus. 66 In summary, a northern route for the exodus is virtu ally ruled out on geogr:lphical, ecological, and Egyptian milit:lry grounds :llike. A centml plateau route is also ecologically highly improbable, and geographically most unlikely (no second yam suph is feasible between the first one and any eastern mountain). A southern route fits in with the following considerations: (i) It comports with the general geographical features from the first crossing of a yam mph (somewhere between Lake Ballah and Suez) down Sinai's west coast, then into the southern wadis and mountains (zone of Gebels Serbal and Musa). (i i) The settings of Gebel Serbal and (more suitably) Gebel Musa fit the needs of the "law-giving" and tabernacle-building episodes at a Mount Sinai, well away from any external interference from Egypt. (iii) Wadi Feiran was the only major


oasis area in Sinai for the Amalekites (or anybody else) to defend against a major body of intruders such as the Hebrews. (iv) Geographical features and eleven days' travel time from Serbal/Musa up the east side to Qadesh -Ihrnea fi t well. (v) Other ecological details such as the spring/evening landings of quail fit the southern solution. (vi) A northern route was forbidden, and its military state fatal to any "exodus," while the impracticality of a central route has been noted - and it too would have been vulnerable to Egyptian military "strikes" down from the north-coast fortresses. Thus a southern exodus cannot be held to be proven, but it is both a viable and a realistic proposition; the narratives show a practical knowledge of Sinai conditions not readily to be gained by late romance writers in exilic l3abylon or an impoverished Persian- Hellenist ic Judea, hundreds of miles from the places and phenomena in question . As Midianites could readily penetrate the Sinai Peninsula (where Moses supposedly met with Jethro, etc.), and their shadows, the Qurrayites, took over the Egyptian temple site for their own at Timna copper mines in northeast Sinai in the twelfth century,67 there are no compelling grounds to move "Mount Sinai" into Midian proper or anywhere else in northwest Arabia either.


Havi ng arrived at Sinai (assuming they actually did), the Hebrew escapees had serious business in hand, according to the extant written traditions. The basic piece of business was the establishment of a formal relationship between the people group and their deity as divine liberator, what is commonly called the giving of the Law - rather misleadingly, even though a variety of laws are in cluded. What is at issue is formal recognition of the deity concerned as the community's leader or sovereign, with such as Moses or Joshua acting as spokesmen between divine leader and those led . Thus a covenant was the form chosen; the deity had liberated them, and now constituted the group as his people; so their proper response was to obey his commands and laws in running their corporate and individual lives as his subjects. Accordingly, we have here a fair amount of narrative and of "text" deriving from that covenant, within three successive documents (part of Exodus-Leviticus, most of Deuteronomy, chap. 24 in Joshua). The other business was the direct service of that leader. A king had a palace and servants to do his bidding; a deity had (correspondingly) a shrine and

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servitors to conduct worship. In the biblical world, universally. that meant for mal rituals with offerings, etc., conducted by priests and their support staff. That was the universal language of worship in t hat world; what happens in ours, a few thousand years later, is wholly irrelevant, and must I/ot be allowed to intrude upon, or cloud, our assessment of the data transmitted to us when we come to st udy it. So we find that a very modest but well -appointed, d ismountable tent shrine is set up, with appropriate (and equally minima!) cult apparatus . For it are appointed a minuscule staff of priests, rather more support staff, and a set "calendar" of very modest daily offerings, special sacrifices, and some annual feasts. Here, for convenience, we shall take these two items of business in reverse order: first, the tabernacle and its concerns, then the covenant. Finally we may look concisely at the possible date of a putative exodus in the light of all that has been reviewed, and then endeavor to sum up.


(i ) T he Tabernacle, Cult, and Trimmings

This structu re is presented as a set of gold-covered acacia -wood frames linked together to form a rectangular structure thrice as long as wide: at most only some 15 feet wide by 45 feet long (2 x 15 feet, forehall, and 15 feet square inner sanctum) .68 Over this st ructure were successively draped curtains that formed the "tabernacle" proper: innermost, of colored cloth decorated with cherubim figures, then (successively) of goat ha ir (typical of tents), of rams' skins dyed red, and finally of leather of a particular type worked or adorned in some way (tahash). Around t he whole was to be a rectangular precinct, about 100 x 75 fee t in extent, bounded by curtaining supported on posts. The priests were simply Aaron and two (surviving) sons; the support staff (the Levites) were probably in twenty-one groups averaging seven for each of three clans, numbering several hundred, doubtless to serve in rotas. For other details and the cult apparat us and "calendar" of offerings, d. below. The setup was tiny; cf. fig. 32E. What we have to examine is the following situation. In biblical studies, for over a century, "critical orthodoxy" (current "m inimalism" being no different) has decreed that the tabernacle is an exilic or postexilic figment of the imaginations of Jew ish priests (ca. sixth to fourth centuries s .c.), seek ing to glorify their cult, giving it a long "history" before the mona rchy by projecting a "tented" form of Solomon's temple back to the time of Moses, their first national leader. If this is so, then an exam ination of the possible history of tabemacular shrines (if any) should have one of three results. Either the tabernacle has no contact


whatever with any known reality, be it sixth -century, fourth-cen tury, or at any other dale, or else it may be found to have direct analogues at that period that could readily have inspired the supposed priestly imaginings in question . That would indeed vindicate "critical othodoxy" either way. However, if inquiry demonstrates clear analogues from earlier epochs, and in particular before the Hebrew monarchy, and with very little such data after circa 1000, then it would be in order to suggest that there could well have been a tent shrine in early Israel that was eventually replaced by the temple of Solomon's time. Late-period priests might conceivably have preserved record of an early structure; but mere imagination would not then have originated it. Let us see.

(aJ Dismountable Tabernacles: Tllird Millennium (Figs. 33A, B)

Nothing was known from this period unti l the 1920S, when a brilliant discovery by Reisner at the Giza pyramids in Egypt opened up the final tomb of Queen Hetepheres, mother of Khufu, the builder of the Great Pyramid, circa 2600. He found the disassembled parts of a "secular tabernacle" that had once enclosed the queen's bedroom suite. It consisted of a wooden framework, gold covered, that fitted together with tenon and socket joints. The top horizontal beams were supported by vertical poles set in base beams. The corners were held by special fitments, a feature also of the biblical tabernacle (Exod. 26:23). The whole framework was once draped with curtains that had not survived . In the shaft down to her burial chamber, amidst t he rubble, were found the remains of another tabernacular structure, but of religious import: copper fittings, gilded wooden posts, and limestone socket -bases; d. such bases for the tabernacle, but of silver (Exod . 26:19-25).69 These finds explained other, sim ilar ones of still earlier date. A First Dynasty high-class tomb at Saqqara (ca . 2900) yielded parts of poles, and likewise the Step Pyramid's storerooms under the Third Dynasty king Djoser (ca. 2700). Some four different Egyptian tomb chapels of the midthird millennium show pictures of such pavilions (or "Tents of Purification") for religious rites associated with mummification. 70 Also curtained, these were quite large structures, again with a series of poles linked by horizontal rods along the top, having the same function as the horizontal middle-crossbars of Exod. 26:26 -28. Thus, in Egypt, most of the biblical tabernacle's technology was literally "as old as the Pyramids," in fact older. But all this is still a thousand years before even a Moses, never mind exilic priests.


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(b) Dismountable Tabernacles, Early Second Milletlnium

However, our story is not done. Recent publicat ions of texts from the famous ki ngdom of Mari on the Middle Euphrates of circa eighteenth (or seventeenth) century now yield mention of tents or "tabernacles" borne on wooden frames, using the same term (but in form qersu) as the Hebrew qerashim, "frames."7l And more besides. The text M.6873 totals up "43 men belonging to the large tent" (to transport it), involving the tent cover proper (khurpatum), the frames (as cited), bases (again, cf. Exod. 26:18-25), and units of (seemingly) fencing, latticework, perhaps to form an enclosure as with the biblical tabernacle (Exod. 27:9-10). Another (ARM XXVII, 124) orders "'delivery of [this ] tent -cover with its wooden frame(s) ." A third (AI?M XXV, 806) has the queen of Aleppo (Yamkhad) feasting in a tent at Ugarit.ln a fourth (FM III, 4: ii:7-14), images of de it ies were set within the "( tent) -frames" for the West Semitic type of sacrifice of an ass. Thus large tents over wooden frames set in socketed bases were used for both ritual and roya l purposes at Mari, still half a millennium before any Moses.

(c) Dismountable Tabernacles, Late Second Millennium

We stay in the Levant, now visiting Ugarit . There the litera ry tablets preserve myths about t he gods and legends of ancient kings (Keret, Aqhat). The tablets themselves date to the thirteenth century, but their archaic language (by comparison with the everyday texts) har ks back to older epochs for the ult imate (oral?) origi n of these compositions . Here, in the Baal myth, the supreme god EI is portrayed as dwelling in a pavilion (qershu ), using the same term as found at Mari and in Exodus.?2 King Keret is described as offering rit ual sacrifices in a tent (kh-III-t); in his tale, "the gods go to their tents (ahl.hlll ) and the assembly of EI to their tabernacles" ( mmkl1t.lml), using the words ahl and 1I1imkatl(aru) in parallel, precisely as in Hebrew.?3 The same occurs in the tale of Aqhat, where KotharlHayyin adjourns to his tent/tabernacle/ 4 Thus, gods in Ugaritic t radition dwelled in tents/tabernacles from of old as well as in temples, and kings might sacrifice in tents also.1' This is contemporary at latest (thirteenth century) with our Sinai tabernacle. Farther east, by contrast, Mesopotamia proper (Assy ria and Babylonia) shows almost no lise at all of such divine tents/tabernacles, at any period. One may cite - again, for the late thirteenth century! - only a four-pillared canopy set up over a religious symbol in a sanctuary of the goddess Ashuritu in the temple built for Ishtar by Tukulti -Ninurta I (ca . 1245- ]208) in Ashur?6 And a


maihkallu or tent canopy was set up over a royal standard (itklwru ) according to a harem decree of Ninurta~apil-ekur (01. 1]93 -1180) only a little later.77 Returning to Egypt, we find tlwt Tuthmosis III (ca . 1479-1425) built as his Festival Hall for Amun at Karnak temple what was a translation into stone of a pillared tent.7 8 Throughout the New Kingdom, but famously illustrated by the finds in the tomb ofTutankhamun (ca. 1336-1327), the pharaohs had concentric tabernacle-like shrines nested over their coffins, like huge wooden "boxes," gold-plated, dismountable, and fitted together with tenons in sockets like the Hebrew tabernade. Over the second of Tutankhamun's shrines was erected a wooden framework carrying a pall of faded linen decorated with gilded bronze rosettes, for all the world like a skeletal tabernade?9 Coming back to the thirteenth century once more (much nearer a Moses), we find the closest analogues for the biblical tabernacle. On the eve of the notorious Battle ofQadesh (ca. 1275), Ramesses II had set up there his royal war tent within its palisade of shields; this is shown in his temple war scenes of the battle. His rectangular tent (like the tabernacle) was divided into two parts, with an outer room twice the length of the inner room of the king himself. In some representations the inner room has figures of divine falcons facing each other and shadowing the royal name with their wings, much as the cherubim did for the cover of the ark in the tabernacle. The outer court with palisade sets the king's tent apart precisely as did the curtained-off cou rt of the Both courts were fectangular, in strong contrast to firsHllillennium usage, when Assyrian camps were regularly round or oval, more economical of space. Any Hebrew account of first-millennium date should have had a round, not rectangular, court. Egypt's fouf army divisions would have camped on the four sides of the king's enclosure, like the four groups of three tribes each on the four sides of the tabernacle court. Cf. figs. 32C, D. The multicolored curtains with their embroidered cherubim figures would be in no way too elaborate for a thirteenth -century Hebrew tabernacle, despite false claims to the contrary. Such techniques were ages old by then, even commonplace. Already in the mid-third millennium we see the state ship of Sahure boasting a vast sail entirely embroidered with squared-off rosettes and stars {fig. 34).81 A New Kingdom tomb has a boat with a checker-patterned red and -white saiL82 The tentlike processional canopy of the god Min under Ramesses II and III (1279 -1213 and 1184-1153) was of scarlet cloth spangled with circled stars and cartouches. Within the thirteenth century under Ramesses II, in the tomb chapel of Ipuy, workmen are shown constructing a "tabernade" of the divinized pharaoh Amenophis I; its cloth or leather side curtaining is richly decorated far beyond a simple row of cherubim. 8) And the sacred embalming tent of Anubis (same date) can sport a most elaborately adorned canopy.84 For


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painted leather coverings, one may mention the great quadrangular catafalque of the lady Istemkheb B under the "kingship" ofPinudjem I (ca. 1050) in Cairo Museum . This was in red/green painted leather, with blue, light yellow, and gilding. 85

(d) A Ta bernacle in tile Wildemess

And last, back to northeast Sinai for a hands-on" excavated tabernacle! When the Egyptians finally abandoned the copper-mining site at Timna in or after the reign of Ramesses V (ca. 1147-1143), the Midianites moved in, destroyed the little Egyptian temple of Hathor, and set up instead their own tabernacle of wooden poles and red/yellow woolen curtaining, with a rectangular base of stones.86 Their shrine probably lasted barely fifty years, until a massive rockfall destroyed and largely buried it circa HOO. Its standing stones (massebotlJ), offering bench, and basin typify Semitic, not Egyptian, religious usage. If the Midianites could worshi p in a multicolored cloth tabernacle in 1130, why not the Hebrews?

(e) Size, Transport, Some Furnishings

It has to be emphasized how small the tabernacle was compared with "national" shrines elsewhere.8 7 Its maximum scale of 15 by 45 feet is utterly minuscule compared to even the personal temples of (say) Ramesses II or III in Western Thebes. These were some zoo by 600 feet, and both the tabernacle and its court would have fit inside the forecourt of either temple twice over! Their enclosed precincts were about 600 by I,ZOO feet in extent! Amun's main temple at Karnak was up to a quarter mile long, and the main temples of Re and Ptah at Heliopolis and Memphis were also very large by this period (though now lost). The tabernacle really is t iny. For transport of t he dismantled tabernacle parts, Moses was given six wagons (,agalah) and twelve oxen (two per wagon) (Num. 7:3_8).88 This is feasi ble, and is not without parallel soon after this time. In the mid- twelfth century Ramesses IV provided precisely such adjunct transport for his massive expedition of over 8,300 people into the deserts of Wad i Hammama t (northeast from Thebes) in his Year 3, using ten wagons (,agalat) with six spans of oxen for each wagon." In another damaged text from Nubia of a Year 3, probably his, mention is made of " [... wa]gon" and of zo(?) wagons" before some host ilities.89 So the Hammamat occurrence is not isolated.



On furnishings we may cite the ark of the covenant (Exod. 25:10-22; 37=1 9) and the special silver trumpets of Num. IO :HO.90 The former was essentially

a gilded box on four feet, with four rings (two each side) to take two carrying poles. The arrangement is identical to that of a famous box from TutankhamLln's tomb, with jLlSt such rings and poles, and also for ritual use (containing four libation vessels). The ark had a gold lid with two cherubim, possibly winged sphinxes, such that the box was base and footstool and the cherubs a throne for the invisible deity. The concept of an empty sacred throne for a present but invisible deity was already current long since in Egypt. In the splendid Deir el -Bahri temple of Q ueen Hatshepsut (ca. 1470), scenes of festiva l processions repeatedly show a portable but empty "l ion throne," whose invisible or absent occupant is symbolized just by a feather fan . Thus the ark is a typical Late Bronze Age item. In contrast to the cu rly ram's-horn shofar, the silver tru mpets (hasoseroth ) were long tubes with flared mouths. These too were in type and use characteristic of New Kingdom Egypt . From Tutankhamun's tomb (again!) we have two such trumpets, one of silver, one of copper or bronze overlaid with gold . Such instruments are commonly shown in scenes, used exactly in the functions decreed in Num. 10. There the trumpets are to be blown to assemble people, or to signal a march to war, or to mark religious festivals. So 100 in Egypt; soldiers are rallied to assemble (for whatever purpose); they art' called out to war; or the horns are blown to accompa ny the great religious festivals, usage found under both Queen Hatshepsut and Ramesses 11. So, again, Egyptian cultural affinities appear at this time. Of the Late Bronze Age (not later), as others have pointed out, are the tabernacle's lampstand and various other facets .91

(f) Personnel and Inductiolls

Two levels of ministrants were appointed for the tabernacle: the Levitical priests of the family of Aaron and the main body of Levites as support staff. Each group had clearly defined roles. Inside the sanctuary the priests alone might serve; outside it the Levites "d id the work" of the tabernacle (Num. 18:1 -7; cf. 3:7-10). This is typical usage elsewhere in the fourteenth and thirteenth cen turies too, when closely corresponding usage obtained at Hittite temples. 92 Pun ishments for infringements were likewise analogous in Hatti, Israel, and Egypt at this epoch.93 As for inductions, in Exod. 29 and Lev. 8- 9 we have notice of the consecration rituals (lasting seven days) for inaugurating and appointing both Aaron as high priest and his remaining sons as (ordinary) priests. Without any scrap

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of independent evidence, biblicists from of old have relegated these rites to the postexilic period, partly because they knew of no such rites in the Levant any earlier. But with entirely new data from th irteenth -century Emar, this is no longer true. We now have elaborate rites (lasting nine days) for t he installation of high priestesses at Emar, which include anointing the new appointee with oil, in fact twice for different aspects of the rites. The use of anointing with oil and blood is found now in the zukru festival at Emar, and is not just a quirk in Exodus and Levit icus. 94 Farther north the Hittite ritual of Ulippi for the induction of a deity into a new shrine also shows very strong analogies with the biblical rites, and lasted six or seven days;95 so comparison with Emar is not just an isolated phenomenon . Compared with the elaborate Syrian and Hittite rituals, those of U!v. 8-9, etc., are brief and "primitive."

(g) Rituals and Offerings

The individual Hebrew rituals as set out in the book of Leviticus (plus parts of Exodus and Numbers) are in general simple and relatively brief throughout. So, too, are many religious rituals at Ugarit. 96 But elsewhere, rituals - even daily riles - run to far grealer length. One example must suffice here. The regular daily offering at the tabernacle is t he twice-daily presentation (morning and evening) of a lamb with grain and oil as a burnt offering, plus a drink libat ion, in aboutthree "acts." To anyone versed in the rites of the ancient Near East, this is an incredibly sparse and modest performance, of utterly archaic brevity and simplicity. Compared with these, the Ugaritic and Emar rituals are large and lavish, while in thirteenth~century Egypt the standard daily temple ritual was embodied in not less than forty -eigh t to sixty-two "acts" thrice a day. The Hebrew festiva l calendar barely manages a dozen celebrations, while in Egypt the festival calendars (as at Thebes) ran to nearly sixty annual feasts, some of great length (such as O pet) and vast opulence. 97 [t is instructive, too, to compare the more lavish festal calendars of Mesopotamia in various places and epochs. [n short, the whole tabernacle setup is incredibly small and modest, even "primitive," closer in evolutionary terms to the fourth millennium H.C. than to the fourth century H.C. 98 Comparative data are illuminating for understanding the Hebrew rites. Thus the tetwpa is an elevation offer ing, not a "wave" offering, just as in New Kingdom Egypt. 99 The concept of transferring evil symbolically to an an imal (or a human) and expelling the same from one's land occurs also in Hittite rites (fourteenth/thirteenth century) and in later Mesopotamian usage - the older parallels are the more exact, not the later ones. 100 Graded cost of offer-



ings is common to Hittites, Emar, and Hebrews in the Late Bronze Age, and blemished offerings are not acceptable to any of these also. 101 There can be no excuse nowadays for art ificially down -dating the Hebrew usages by six or seven centuries, for purely nineteenth -century doctrinaire reasons. Again, a seven -year cycle such as the Year of Jubilee (Lev. 25) is not just a late theoretical construction. From the early second millennium, acts of release occu r varyingly in !IlisiJaru!Il or aIJdurarum years; in relig ious practice we have t he zukru festival at Emar that was celebrated every seven years, with preparatory rites in the sixth year. 102

(II) Nar rative Reports on Building Shrines 10J

It has been observed that in Exod. 25- 31 plus 35- 40 (and dedications, etc., in Lev. 8- 10; Num. 7) we have a broadly balanced account. Deity commands the

work to Moses, who passes the command on ; people and material are mustered, the work is done (largely in terms of the command), inspected, and com pleted, followed by dedicat ion and rejoicing. Well over a century ago Wellhausen and others rejected this presentation in favor of their own theory : namely, that a full -length command was o riginally fo llowed only by a summary note of its fulfillment, and aU else that we read now is material added at later time(s} . However, much more recent invest igation has shown this "modern" con cept to be wrong, and the existing forma t of Exod. 25- 40, etc., to be original, i.e., t rue to ancient usage in the thi rd and second millennia in particula r. Within the Old Testament the accounts of building both the tabernacle and Solomon's temple show the same basic set of fe:l t ures: divine command, transmission of that command, preparations to build, then the work (with descriptions of structures, etc.), dedication/imu guration, blessinglrejoicing, and deity's response. Not only so, but this schem a and forma t is well attested in other ancient Near Eastern building texts. The examples closest to the tabern:lcle account come from Gudea of Lagash (later third millennium) and Samsu-iluna of Babylon (ca. 1700), plus refl exes in the Baal myth at Ugarit (texts, thirteenth century; but origins older). ~ss so are sLlch narrations by Tiglath-pileser [ of Assyria (ca. lIOO) and later Mesopotamian rulers, tha t are closer to Solomon's temple-building account . What is more, such accounts always give in full the build ing work and description of the shrine concerned, even if they abbreviate the original command. This contradicts absolutely the old theory that sought to argue the opposite, without any knowledge of the touchstone of external, fi rsthand records and facts. Thus the old nineteenth -century dogmas must be


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abandoned in the face of those facts. There is no reason whatsoeverto deny that t he tabernad e and temple building accounts run true to form, and would nor~ mally be considered as records of act ual work done. Thus, for the Sinai tabernacle, in retrospect, we possess a considerable and growing - amount of valuable comparative data (much of it very old, and much, contemporary; far less, of later date) that favor the hypothesis that a small but well -decorated dismou ntable tent shrine (based on usages of its t ime) accompanied the Hebrews from Sinai to Canaan, its rit uals being of appropriate modesty in extent and format.

(ii) Covenant, Law, and Treaty

(a) The Data We now return to the central concern at Sinai: the covenant said to have been established t here, as "co nstitution" for the polity of "earliest Israel," with t heir deity as sovereign leader, and such human subordinates as a Moses or a Joshua as intermediaries. We do l1otpossess an official copy or forma l text of the actual covenant itself, but only presentations of the cnactmCIJt of that covenant (with considerable sections of its contents) at Sinai (in Exodus- Lev iticus), and of the Cltactmcntof renewals of it both in the plains of Moab forty years later (extensively in Deuteronomy) and in Canaan soon afteT\vard (Josh. 8, mention only; and 24, summary) . This distinction is of very great importance, because ex ternal evidence on t reaties and covenants shows that (e.g .) the order of enactment does Ilotalways correspond to the final order of items in formal written copies of such a document. Nevertheless, the congruity of contents and the main order amply suffices to establish with utmost clarity what close correspondences and what contrasting differences actually exist between our biblical and external material. Already on pp. 242 -44 above, the barest contents of the three presentations of the Sinai covenant and its renewals were outlined, in the context of our existing biblical books. Now we have to move a step further back, and detach the covenant presentations from their present "final" context. Then we can view them independently of the final context, in their own right, first together synoptically, and then with external examples of treaties, law collections, and covenants. Today we can establish an outline history of treaty, law, and covenant through some two thousand years, from circa 2500 down to circa 650, in six distinct phases, using between eighty and ninety documents. That history provides an objective and fi xed frame of reference against which we can set the



biblical examples, in dating them and evaluating their part in that overall history. But first we must tabulate the three preserved biblical versions of the Sinai covenant, before turning to the other data . The formal numbers and headings are standardized, in line with the rest of the data .
Table 11. The Sinai Covenant and Its Renewals
Exodus -Leviticus
I. Title/Pro'mnbl". I;";'od. 20:1. Now God s poke all th ese word s, saying:


Joshua 24

,. Title/Preamble. IXu!. 1:1-5

are lhe wo rds Moses spo ke ... (5 verses), sayIIlg:

TitldP.,.mnblr. Josh. 2.-p .

TIIUS says YHWH, the God

of Is rael:

:/.. Hi$toriwl Prowglle. "lO :"l . I

am YI'IWH YOllr God who brought YO ll out of Egypt. (1 ....r5<')

l . Historic"l Prowg"'" 1:6):29. YHWH o ur God spoke to ll S, saying: (history, Si,Uli to Mo"b; 40 + 37 + 29 ,er>C.l)

:/.. Historic,,/ Prowg"". 14:'w ') . Fordatl",rs, Te rah, Abra ham, etc., down to lea'~ng Egypt for a new land (12

wr.5eS) ). Stiplllations. a. Sa,ic: 10 ~Words, :/.0:3-17. bl. Dt,rai/:

20:22-26; 21 - 2), 25- ) ' (Lev., see after 5)

3. Stip"!mio" s. ["no.: 4a. Basic: 5. b. Detail: 6-]1,


3. Stil'"/mions. (I:ssence
only): 24:]4-15, pill s res ponse

D,,/'Ositi"g To::.

" l5 :6 book

by ark (a nd 4b. Rem/i"s 24:7)

d. IXu!. 10:7-8)


43 . De/'Ositi"g Text. 31:9, 21 Book by ark


DepoSiti"g Text.

" 14:Z(i -

in book 4b. Rem/illS Ollt -

(ef. Exo d.

4b. Rem/ius 0111. 31:9 - 1) . Read out to p eople ever y seven )'Ts S. Win",ss. )1:26 - boo k; ) 1:' 9 -22, song (i n 32)

5 Win",ss. :/.4 :4 (' 2 sk lae)

S. Willie).$. 24 :22 {p eo ple ):/.7 (stela )

(3 . Stipulations, contd.) b2. Detail (ca ,.td.) UV. !I-~O; 27

lib. Blessings.. O bedience Lev. 26:3- 13 (sho rt ) If YOll fol low My word, I send. peace (etc.)

lib. Blessi,lgs.. -

O bedience 28: 1-14 (short ) Ifyo ll obey, you will be blessed ..

lib. Blessings.. -

Obedience (implk,,1 in 24:20C, "afte r He ha~ done you gooJ")


Cur.5es. - Disobedience Lev. 26:14 -43 (27 verses)

6<: . Curses. - Disob... dien ce :211:15-66 (53 verse;)


Cu rses. - Di sobedien ce


Additional features can include 7. Oaths (cf. Deu!. 29:12-15), and 8. Ceremonies (Exod. 24:1-11; Deul. 27, fulfilled in Josh. 8:30-35). The history of the sequence of treaty/law/covenant through at least two thousand years in its six phases must now be tabulated in a similar way. Phases I, III -VI (treaties) form a chronologically continuous series, while phase II (law


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collections) overlaps from I into [II. Phases [ and V[ show variants in East (Mesopotamia) and West (Syria/Palestine)_ This may be set out as follows_
Ta ble
22 _ Treaty,

Law, Covenant, 2500-650

B_ C YU,

Da te Jrd mill. ca_ 2500 -2jOO 3rdJearly 2nd mill. ca. 21<)<;>-1700 Early 2nd mill. ca. r800-1700 Mid. 2nd mill. ca. 1600-1 400 Late 2nd mill. ca.1400- 1 WQ


I, Arch"ic;

A. EAST: Eannatu m/U rnnm; N ara m -Sin/Elarn B_ WEST: Ebla and Abarsal (o thers at Ebla?)

II: & .. Iy: L~w code s"

JIl: Early: Treatie,
IV: /mum"dim,,:


j rd: Ur -Narnrnu of Third Dyn. orUr 2nd: Lil'it -Ishtar: Harnmu rabi of Babylon

Several Mari and Tell Leilan treaties (not all publ.J 2 Old Babylonian t[<""'ties; (Hebr. IYdtriarc1rs, S<'<' cir al'. 7) 2 North S)'Tian (Alalakh ) 4 Hinile (Anatolia; Cilicia) j ' + x Hiltil<' treat ies, Anatolia. Syria, Egypt, incl. bilinguals (HitL with Akkadian, Ugarilic, Egyptian)


V: Midrll,-: Treatie, (and Cov{"nant) VI: Late: Treaties

Early 1St mill. ca90<)-(i50

A. I; AST: 10 Mesopotamian treaties (and Oath -docIS) B. WEST: j Sefir" Aramaic tr{"aties

It is vitally important to understand that the documents of each phase are sharply different in formal and full content from those in the phases before and after them . There is no ambiguity. Only I I has t raits that reappear in V. Thus this sequence presents us with a very clear and precise framework for dating further examples such as newly excav ated and published finds, and also the Si nai covenant. It is not practicable to give here all these eighty or ninety documents at full length and with detailed analyses of each and of the full history of the genre. That task must be pursued elsewhere. But at least outlines of the key types can be presented. For color diagrams of ten specimens, see Kitchen, BAR 21, no. 2 (1995): 54-55. Here we will simply use a limited number of labeled linear tables to illustrate the two-thousand-years' worth of changes that took place. In phase I (see table 2), on p. 286) the eastern branch (Mesopotamia and Elam) followed the archa ic Sumeria n way of doing things, wilh lots of repetilion . Instead of putting the first oath just once before all the stipulations, and the other oaths and curse just once after all the stipulations, theif way was to repeat the whole apparatus of oaths and curse each time with every individual "law" or stipulation in turn. But in the western branch (north Syria), the local Semitic rulers would have none of this archaic, time- and space-consuming



Table 23. Treaty, Law, Covenant, Phase I (Third Mille nnium)

ElISt; Eanrmtulll

ElISt: Naram -Sin

Wes t: Ebla
2. Prologue, geographical
6c. Curses, ill ilbl 3. Stipulations

Prologue, historical

5. Witnesses
7. Oath, + 3., stipulatio n 7. Oat h, +

7. 1St Oa th, + 3. stip ulatio n, 6c, curS<'". + 7, oaths 7.,3., 6c, 7, ditto 7, ) ., 6c, 7, dino ------------------------------7, ) ., 6" 7, ditto


st ipulat io n

6c. Curses, final

7. Oat h, + 3., stipulatio n

7.,3., 6c, 7, dillo

7, ) ., 6" 7, dino

------------------------------7. Oath, + J., st ipulatio n

7. Oat h, + 3., stipulat io n 7. Oat h,


stipulat io n

7. Oat h,

+ 43 Deposit, + 6b Blessing

procedure, so they bracketed the entire body of stipulations as one whole between the initial and final curses - once each, the lot. From about 2100 down to 1750/1700, in round figures, we have two paral lel sets of documents; law collections and treaties/covenants. The law "codes" here appear as phase II, the treaties as phase III (see tables 24 and 25, on p. 287) . The three documents of phase II (through at least three centuries) show remarkable consistency in their arrangement and content. (The laws of Eshnunna are not included here, simply because they Iso far] exist only in the nuclear form of a set of laws without any setting.) We now similarly set out phases III and IV, for the treaties of the middle and late second millennium. Both of these phases differ greatly from what precedes (and massively from what now follows!). They also differ between themselves; no title in [[I, but a title in IV; matched witnesses and oath in 111, but the oath is separate from the witnesses in IV. We now look at phases V, VI, and Sinai (see table 26, on p. 288) . The basic correspondence between Sinai and the Hittite corpus (reaching into Egypt!) is clear beyond all doubt; the order and magnitude of blessing

Lotus Eating and Moving On Table

Ur-Nall) ll)u

Exodus and COl'ellant

2100- 17(0 )

Treaty, Law, Covenant, Phase II (ca.

Li pit-Is hta r

HarlllllU rabi

.. Pream blel






Prologue: Theological Historical Ethical



Prologue: Theological


Prolog ue: Theological



[, Epilogue 6b. Blessings oc. Curses, aUlosl?1





6b. Blessings 6c. Curses

6b. Blessings 6c. Curses



Treaty, Law, Covenant, Phases Ill-IV ( 1$00- 1700-1400)

I'hll5e TV No rlh S"rill
7. Oath s

Phllse 111 Mllri/Le;!tm




_._--- _.. __ ._-----_.5. Witrres"es



3. Stipulations

3. Stil'u]atio us

Stipulations 7. Oath

&. Curses

& . C urses

&. Curses

(sho rt) and curses (long) in Sinai goes back to the earlier law-"code" tradition of phase [I. Other very minor variat ions not in this table occur also inside the Hittite corpus itself, and are directly comparable with the Sinai data . The other massively striking result of juxtaposing phases V, VI, and Sinai is the glaring contrast between Hittite phase V plus Sinai on the one hand and both variants of the later phase VI on the other. In V[ there is 110 historical prologue, 110 blessings to match with curses, 110 deposition, 110 reading arrangements. But all these are common to phase V and Sinai, and (bu t for very early and law prologues) not to any other phase at all! Sinai and its two renewals - especially the versIOn til Deuteronomy - belong squarely within phase V, within 1400 - 1200,


Ta ble 26. Treat y, Law, Cove nant, Phases V-VI (1 400-1200; 900-6 50)
PhtlSe V

Sillfl i O/Y/.
Exodlls-t eviricll$,

Ph'/slt Vi: IV Sefire

Ph'lse VI; E

Co rpll5

los/lim 24

.. Title
2. Ilist. Prologue 3. Sti pulation s 4. DCI,/Readilig s. Witnesses oc. Curses 6b. Blessings

.. Title

.. Title


Title Witnesses

Ilist. Prologue




3. St ipulations 4. DcplReading s. Witnesses 6b. Blessings

6<:. Curses

6(. Curses
3. Stipulations

3 Stipulations

6(. CUr5e5

al1d at 110 other date. The impartial and very extensive evidence (thirty Hittiteinspired documents and versions!) sets this matter beyond any further dispute. It is 110tmycreation, it is inherent in the mass of original documents themselves, and so cannot be gainsaid, ifthe brute facts are to be respected. As may be noticed concerning table 21 for the three Sinai recensions (p. 284), the stipulations in the Exodus-Leviticus version are divided, some before the tabernacle building and commissioning (in Exodus), some after it (in Levit icus), and even an addendum right at the end (Lev. 27) . Th is is not untoward . In the Hitt ite corpus, the treaty between Tudkhalia IV and Ulmi -Tesup intercalates the deposition (4a) between two lots of stipulations (3), and then inserts fu rther stipu lat ions aft er cu rses and blessings and a sanctions section and t hen adds more witnesses at the end! For the last feature, compare the witnesses of Deut. 31:19-22, 26 (+ chap. 32) placed after all the blessings and curses, similarly. [n dealing with peoples (as opposed to kingdoms), as was Israel, the Hittites varied the order modestly in some measure: the witnesses occur near the beginning in the Hayasa and Kaska (no. 138) treaties ofSuppiluliuma I, being followed in Hayasa's case by a second lot each of stipulations and blessings/ curses! In another of his Kaska treaties (no. 1 39), the "final" curse/blessings are followed by oaths sandwiching additiona l stipulations. Thus the minor variations of order in the Sinai covenant and renewals are of no consequence; the mai n order and overall conten t is what is really significant. By cont rast, the later ,88

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phase VI treat ies have two consistently different orders of format, and one bizarre Assyrian treaty (of Assur-n irari V and Matiel) goes back to distant Sumerian precedent by putting curses after each of six groups of stipulations! Sinai is neither just law nor properly a treaty. It represents a confluence of these two, producing a further face t in group relationships, namely, socialpolitical-religious covenant. L1W, treaty, and covenant in this context are three parts of a triptych . Law regulates relations between members of a group within the group. Treaty regulates relations between the members of two groups politically distinct (or, with vassals, originally so). Covenant in our context regulates relations between a group and its rul ing deity. It is thus "religious" in serving its deity through worship; social in that the mandatory content of the covenant is rules for practical living (law); and political in thaI the deity has the role of exclusive sovereign over the group. The confluence shows up in three details in particular. First, the overall framework format and main range of contents is d rawn from the treaty format of the fourteenth/thirteenth centuries; second, the law content of the sti pulations derives from law, not trealY, and the Sinai covenant's use of short blessings plus longer CllTses (not the roughly equal curses and blessings of t he Hittites) goes back to the older law collections' usage; third, use of interim epilogues before these final sanct ions likewise goes back to the older law coaeclions, not trealy.

(b) The Consequences o/the Data

These results - from the data themselves, let it be stressed! - have drastic im plications which all of us must be prepared to face. (\) There can be no further squirming and wriggling away from the facts ; old subterfuges must be dis carded. (2) The occurrence of such a characteristic format in the Sinai covenant has direct implications for its literary origins. (3) The whole question of "Deuteronomic" ideas and writings in early Israel (and their history) must be reviewed in the light of these facts . (4) The Sinai documents have an indubitable fou rteenth/thirteenth century format, but the "standard" biblical Hebrew in which they are written as preserved to us did not exist then; how does this work out in practice? We will now review these matters as concisely as possible, (5) to attain to a sensible and orderly end result.
(1) No Way Gilt from the Facts

The whole matter of treaty and covenant goes back most of half a centu ry 10 a pair of seminal articles by G. E. Mendenhall published in the Bibliral Arclweol-


ogist m ]954. There he pointed out the clear congruences between the forma t of the Hittite corpus of treaties and part of Exodus plus Josh. 24, suggesting that the Sinai covenant might well have had thirteenth-century roots. His presentation was very incomplete; no heed was paid to the overall data of ExodusLeviticus, or to Deuteronomy at all. However, his papers (reissued as a booklet) did set in motion a wave of further studies in the field of covenant and its Near Eastern background and on terminology, etc. 1Q5 As usual, some valuable work was published, some indifferent, and some that went beyond probability. However, this whole development was not acceptable to the "old guard" in biblical studies, for whom a nineteenth-century belief in a late "law" (sixth! fifth centuries), after the prophets, and 62] as the definitive date of Deuteronomy were absolu te dogmas to be fanatica lly defended, even at the cost of facts to their contrary. Thus we find McCarthy in ]963, 1973, and 1978 trying to escape from the implications of the clear correlations between the treaties and the Sinai covenant, but on false premises, such as the error of claiming that some Hittite treaties lacked historical prologues (untrue for proper copies, including Mursil !II Niqmepa), and that a historical prologue occurs in a Neo~Assyrian treaty of the seventh century (again untrue; see beloW).I06 Likewise Weinfeld in 1972, on Deuteronomy, made the sweeping claim that "this traditional fonnulation [i.e., of treaties I rema ined substantially unchanged from the time of the Hittite Empire down through the neo-Assyrian period . There is no justificat ion, then, for regarding the formulation of the Hittite treaties as being unique, nor is there any basis for the supposition that only Hittite treaties served as the model and archetype of the Biblical covenant."I07 On the total evidence of all the eighty to ninety documents known or available, and summarized above (c f. tables 21-26 above for the bare bones), his statement is wholly fillse to the facts . At a later date, in all fairness to him, Weinfeld found himself constrained to admit that there were clear distinctions between the late-second -millennium treaties and the first -millennium group. 1011 The "formulation of the Hittite treaties" is unique to the period between 1400 and 1200 (more exactly, ca . 1380-1180), precisely because the body of known documents from before 1400 is radically di fferent in format - and so is the more limited group of documents from circa 900 -650. And factually, that is the end of the matter. The claim that the treaty of Assurbanipal with the Arabs of Qedar (midseventh century) had a historical prologue is occasionally made, but is false. lo.. The opening lines of the treaty are lost (five lines or more), which included the title line and the begin ning of the citation of "the gods of Assyria and Qedar" as witnesses, the normal second feature of Neo-Assyrian treaties (where preserved) . After these two elements (title, witnesses), we then have the largely

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negative stipulations and final curses where the end of the text is broken off. At t he beginning of the Assyrian king's stipulative commands, he simply remarks t hat because of Yauta's ill doings and his own favor to the Qedarites, they must not in future do this and that, but should oppose and kill Yauta out of loyalty to their Assyrian suzerain. Nothing more! This is /lot a "prologue"; on position alone, it would be a "middle-Iogue" - which species does not exist! The king simply says why he enjoins them to oppose and slay Yauta . It is an isolated reason in the middle of the text, and not a full historical narrative at the text's beginning, directly following the title. Therefore this fig leaf that biblicists have invoked to "prove" cont inuity of initial historical prologues into the first millennium B.C. is nonexistent, and our emperors have no clothes on this point. The stark fact remains, that out of eighty or more documents, all known prologues (historical and othenvise) precede the twelfth century, and none is attested in the first millennium. The more recent claim (Parpola) that the Esarhaddon treaties with the Medes had a brief historical prologue is also mistaken; no such entity appears in any of these first -millennium texts. 110 In any case, it is /lot just prologues that are at stake; there is also the nonuse of blessings balancing curses for obedience/disobedience to such documents, and of injunctions on depositing and reading out of such documents. Biblicists must stop evading the clear mass of evidence, and face up to the facts as they are. Another false argument for refusing to accept that Deuteronomy might have had origins in the Late Bronze Age is that its series of curses derives from those of the Neo-Assyrian treaties of the seventh century, as enunciated by Frankena. l l l This too is misleading, and far too simplistic. Curses have a long history in the Near East, as table 27 on the following pages demonstrates. Because there are obvious correspondences between seven curses in Esarhaddon's t reaties with the Medes in 672 and some seven curses (in six verses and two miniparagraphs) in Deu !. 28 (often dated to about 621), biblical scholars quickly jumped to the conclusion that the author(s) of Deut. 28 had taken the matter, and even the sequence, of these verses (23-30, 33, 53 -57) directly from the phraseology and repertoire of the seventh-century Assyrian t reaties. However, the situation is not that simple. The tradition of formal curses in the ancient Near East went back almost two thousand years before the seventh century and reached all quarters oftha! world. Given the ever-growing presence and influence of Arameans in Assyria (and Mesopotamia generally) from the ninth/eighth centuries, some would see the reverse process here: namely, that the curses in common between Deuteronomy and Esarhaddon's Median treaties had in fact been borrowed from earlier West Semitic tradition - which is perfectly possible. Thus the whole fragile thesis of Deuteronomy's supposed dependence on seventh-century Assyrian usage would simply evaporate.



Table 27. Deuteronomy 28 Curses and Other Sources ll2

Deut.18, No. & verses; ,.16-19: citr, 1' 1I<i Early lnd mill. MARl). 5of9 Late 1nd mill. Early 1St; Sifre '71>fl crop. Assyria, pre -700 Assyria, after 700

GB. >9, 4). no<.

off. pring, <fOps,

.nimot. , . 10: confusion. ruin 311-''"' fcwr,di< .. ~, "~'~Dg 4. : b: hea t, droughl. mildew 5. '}: sky, bron." voun,1- iron 6. '4 : ... in to dust

ZL-Eoh, '44'

R. tI,6c


HB, rv >6:60

!. 231'9

SM n, "I} ; Il (SA V:AN V) SMII,5(SA



rv 1$: 9>'

SM II.}. 10 (SA V:AN V) VTE.5>fl15}'

MAR! ). 60f 9 (river dried up)

HB, rv ';:65

MARl). 6of9 7- 'S: defe .. by foe t. ,6: <orr- 10 bird, .od be..ts 9- '7: l>9U" ~m (!q>ro<y) H6, rv j7"X>'~J "s,puni.h mro,' I'''''urrul; "''' VSM II, 11
HR, rv '7'90

VTE. 4'}-4';

VT~ 419' '''9; SMII,7'

10.23' ></0 : blind, men,,1 <onful;"n

II. >9b: robbed

", ",

rv >6:70:


GB. 107, nO.

VTE, 421' 4'4 SAA 11,6;

MAR!}. 61, 9

H. lO" wife gone;

,JOb: ho...., gone:

)OC :

villa gon"


VTE, 4>8' 4'9


,). 31 livestock

GB, 107, no

'4.31: f'!I,ily to O/ '5. )J: foreign ... "ke rroduce 16. ,14: m.dn ... '7. }s: boil. from foot to he,d

cf. GB, '07, no.


VTE. "lOb; SMII,'7


,s. ""J] : exile ond m! ..ry

", ",

rv >6:7&.

SM! L 4

SM 11,17

rv >8:19' "


Lotus Eating and Moving On 19_ ,.,_." ha""""


Exodus and COl'ellant



,6:1)$, 711


&: i!;!9-11

I. >7-'9. "

10. 4>' IOC"'\$

11 . ",)-",4' alieu

I. '7

SM II, [1)1


4S-..s: $aVe

foes. in distress


" . 49 -S" foe. toke


'''' S)-Y: connibal-

lITE. 443-4';0

'5. ~-6,: oi l iUs (rl'gue.j

SM II. "

But the facts of the case may be broader still. Namely, that both Deuteronomy (at whatever date) and Esarhaddon's scribes both drew on a longstanding common pool of curse formulae and topics (includ ing common sequences) that could be adapted to the needs of the 1ll0ment _l1} Table 27 illustrates the position in compact form . O f forty -eight verses covering twenty-five curses (or curse parag raphs) in Deut . 28, ollly seven connect with the Esarhaddon treaties (VTE) - which is very few! Also, the order is not identical in the two cases_ Deut_28:23 goes with VTE lines 528/531, which is nearly eighty lines after the block of li nes (419 -50) t hat runs parallel with 28:26 -30,33, 53 -57! As these references show, (i) the Deut_ 28 parallel is discont inuous (vv. 31 -32 and 34-52 do not have links with VTE), (ii) the parallel even shows varying order of items in a pair of cases : verse 26 (an d 25?) would have to come between verses 29/30 to keep the same topic sequence as VTE. But that would interfere with the sequence of topics as expressed . (ii i) Correlation of only seven ill-organized items out of seventy-five curses/curse paragraphs (in two separated sections of twenty-six and forty -nine curses) in the Assyrian text and the forty-eight verses/twenty-five curses/curse paragraphs of Deut . 28 is not a very impressive linkup. It is even less so if we compare other correlations in our table 27 . There we have ten links with Hammurabi and five with Mari/ZL, namely, fifteen links between Dellt. 28 and the early second millennium - more than twice as many as with VTE! In the late second millen nium we have six correlations, almost as many as with VTE; so at twenty-one items, thrice as many links in the whole second millennium as with seventh-century VTE. O utside of the Median trea ties of VTE, there are other comparisons with first -millennium documents. In the eighth century we have six links with the Aramaic Stela I from Sefirt; and eight linkups with treaties of the kings Shamshi-Adad V and Assur-nirari V of


the ninth and eighth centuries, plus two with two kudurrllS ( Babylonian boundary stones of the eleventh and tenth centuries respectively) - sixteen all told, more than twice the VTE links. Finally, in the seventh century we do have six links other than with the Median treaties, almost as many as with them . In final total, from the eighteenth to the seventh centuries, we have forty -three correlations with Deut. 28, by contrast with the partly disordered seven ofVTE. Thus a direct link between Assyrian treat y expressions of the seventh century and Deut. 28 is a theoretical possiblity (7 + 6 =; I) correlations), but pales into almost insignificance alongside the forty correlations with earlier periods (thirty before 1200). Thus it is conceivable that an older version of Deuteronomy was updated in about 622, at least by half a dozen extra curses from a foe from whom (under Josiah!) the Judeans were actually trying to free themselves; a curious contradiction between possible literary reformers and the political situation under which they labored! [t is easier simply to attribute both the Deuteronomy verses and curses and the VTE examples to origins in the broad pool of traditional curse topics and formulae that had long existed and grown up through many centu ries, of which we now see only glimpses. Finally, some symptomatic details. Deuteronomy shares intimate distinctions with the late-second -millennium documents not found in the first millennium series, such as the use of the terms for "bond" only before the oath element ofbJess ings and curses, and then t he joint expression of bond and oath after that feature (so in Deut. 29:12, 14, English text; Heb. is 29 :11, I ) ; this could not be reinvented six hundred years later without its cultural context .114 The term segulla, "especial treasure," in Deuteronomy (e.g., 7:6; 14:2; 26:18) is 110t some special, late term coined by seventh-century "Deuteronomists," but is common coin throughout the Semitic world from the early second millennium onward. O ld Babylonian examples (Akkad. sikiltu) occur in the laws of Hammurabi and at Alalakh (eighteenth century), and at Nuzi in the fifteenth century. It recurs (as sglt) at Ugarit in the thirteenth century, and occasionally thereafter. These usages are old, not late, and do not depend on strictly Hebraic "Deuteronomisrn," be it real or illusory. li S Such phrases as to "guard the covenant/bond" ( Deut. )):9 in the archaic "Song of Moses") are by no means late/post-Deuteronomic, as this one in particular has its direct equivalent in Akkadian mamitrdade or riksa l1as(f )arll, "guard the oath or treaty," familiar from documents from the second millennium onward. And other such idioms might be cited .1l 6

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Exodus and COl'enant

(2) How Could Brickfield Slaves Produce International- Format Doc/ltnerlts?

The particular and special form of covenant evidenced by Exodus-uviticus and in Deuteronomy (and mirrored in Josh . 24) could not possibly have been reinvented even in the fourteenth/thirteenth cen turies by a runaway rabble of brick-making slaves under some uncouth leader no more educated than themselves. The formal agreeing, formatting, and issu ing of treaty documents belongs to governments and (in antiqu ity) to royal courts. Private citizens had no part in, and no firsthand knowledge of, such arcane, diplomatic procedures. Their only role was to hear the content of a treat y (if they were vassals of a suzerain -overlord), and obey it through their own ruler. So also today, treaties are agreed to by heads of state, and implemented by them; and any bills are picked up by the long-suffering taxpayers with never a sight of the original interstate document responsible for the cost. So, how come documents such as Exodus-Leviticus and Deuteronomy just happen to embody very closely the framework and order and much of the nature of the contents of such treaties and law collections established by kings and their scribal staffs at court in their respective capital cities in the late second millennium? This is socially and conceptually a million miles away from serfs struggling to build thirteenth -century Pi -Ramesse (and Pithom) in the sweaty, earthy brick fi elds of Exod. 1:IH4 and 5:6-20! No Hebrew there could know of, or would care about, such high -level diplomatic abstract ions. Even a runaway rabble inevitably needs a leader. To exploit such concepts and formats for his people's use at that time, the Hebrews' leader would necessarily had to have been in a position to know of such documents at first ha nd either because he knew people who shared such information with him or because he was himself involved with such documents. There is no other option. In short, to explain what exists in our Hebrew documents we need a Hebrew leader who had had experience of life at the Egyptian court, mainly in the East Delta (hence at Pi- Ramesse), including knowledge of treaty-type documents and their format, as well as of traditional Semitic legal/social usage more familiar to his own folk. In other words, somebody distressingly like that old "hero" of biblical tradition, Moses, is badly needed at this point, to make any sense of the situation as we have it. Or somebody in his position of the same or another name. On the basis of the series of features in Exodus to Deuteronomy t hat belong to the late second millennium and not later, there is, again, no other viable optio n. The essence of the account of Moses is that: (i) he was adopted into the Egyptian ha rem (and so, into the royal court) in the East Delta, being found by



princess; (ii) grown to lldulthood, at the Egyptian court but still a Semite, a Hebrew by conviction, his murder of lin Egyptilln exiled him to Midilln untilll new king reigned. (iii) He was then recalled to Egypt by his deity YHWH, contended with the new king, and led his people group (clans called collectively Israel) out of Egypt to the seclusion of Sinai; (iv) there, lIsing his upbringing, he mediated (iva) a covenant in then-contemporary terms, in (ivb) long-standing, traditional Semitic (and older) legal usage, and (v) had made a wooden-framed tent shrine using well-tried Egyptian technology (used for a thousand years already) in an ancient and widespread Semitic tradition (tabernacles, MaTi, Ugarit, Midian; Egypt's royal/divine war tent, etc.).Il7 For (iii), (iva), and (v), we have already given cultural/historical context. It may be useful now, therefore, to investigate what data (if any) may serve as touchstones in evaluating (i), (ii), and (ivb). If there is nothing that bears out the various situations of a Moses - fine! We can ditch him in favor of some alternative path. But if he fits the bill, then it wil! be wise to adjust accordingly. This is /Jot a matter for rival biblicist camps and their rival theological drives, but for quietly checking out how th ings actually were in the late second millennium. Under (i) we have first the birth account of Moses (Exod . 2:1-9). Here, because of the reported ban on male Hebrew babies, his mother hid the infant in a cllulked basket in the Nile rushes, where a daughter of the king found him, pit ied him, and lldopted him . His mother managed to become his nllrse into early childhood. Many times over, of course, this has been compared to an analogolls story about the future Sargon of Akkad, of great renown. He too was left in a caulked basket on a river, found by a stranger, who brought him up; and later he became a mighty king. 1l8 People have usually dism issed both tales as legendllry, and therefore sometimes Moses likewise . But the latter does not follow; legendary infancy or not, Sargon of Akkad was a real king, and inscriptions are known from his reign both in the originals and in Old Babylonian copies. So a "birth legend" (even of a popular kind) does not automatically confer mythical status. Even today, many an infant is abandoned by its despairing mother (mentions in the media are all too frequent), and in antiquity it was no less so in tragic reality. Hence Moses' historicity cannot be judged on this feature; and the story could in fact be true, but not provable. His name is widely held to be Egyptian, and its form is too often misinterpreted by biblical scholars. It is frequent ly equated with the Egyptian word illS (Mose) meaning "child," and stated to be an abbreviation of a name com pounded with that of a deity whose name has been omitted. And indeed, we have many Egyptians called Amen -mose, Ptah -mose, Ra -mose, Hor-mose, and so on. But this explanation is wrong. We also have very many Egyptians who were actually called JUST "Mose," without om ission of any particular deity. Most

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Exodus and COl'ellant

famous because of his family's long lawsuit is the middle-class scribe Mose (of t he temple of Ptah at Memphis), under Ramesses II; but he had many homonyms. So, the omission -of-deity explanation is to be dismissed as wrong. There is worse. The name of Moses is most likely /lot Egyptian in the first place! The sibilants do not match as they should, and this cannot be explained away. Overwhelmingly, Egyptian s appears as s (samekh) in Hebrew and West Semitic, while Hebrew and West Semitic s (samekh) appears as tj in Egyptian . Conversely, Egyptian sh = Hebrew sh, and vice versa. It is better to admit that the child was named (Exod . 2:!Ob) by his own mother, in a form originally vo calized Mashu, "one drawn out" (which became Moshe, "he who draws out," i.e., his people from slavery, when he led them forth). [n fou rteenth/thirteenthcentury Egypt, "Mose" was actually pronounced MaSH, and so it is perfectly possible that a young Hebrew Mash u was nicknamed Masu by his Egyptian companions; but this is a verbal pun, not a borrowing either way.1l9 What about upbringing (item ii)? Exod. 2:10 notes the full adoption of the boy by his princess patron; that implies his becoming a member of the ruling body of courtiers, officials, and attendants that served the pharaoh as his government leaders under the viziers, treasury chiefs, etc. Such a youth would need to be fully fluent in Egyptian (not just his own West Semitic tongue) ; so he would be subjected to the Egyptian educationa l system, learning the hieratic and hieroglyphic scripts. This is typical enough during the New Kingdom, especially in t he Nineteenth (Ramesside) Dynasty of the thirteenth century. One may cite a papyrus from the Fayum Harim (under Sethos II, grandson of Ramesses II), in which a leading lady writes to the king: "Useful is my Lord's action in send ing me people to be taught and trained to perform this important task .. . . For those here are grown-up children, people like those my Lord sent, able to act, able to receive my training. They are foreigners like those brough t to us under Ramesses [I your good Ifore lfather, and they would say, 'We were quite a number in the households of the notables,' and could be trained to do all they were told to dO." 120 In the Fayum, these youths may have been set to weaving rather than school; but the attitude expressed applies across the board - and its outcome is the considerable number of foreigne rs (especiaHy Semites and Hurrians) who served at court and beyond. These included the personal cupbearers of Pha raoh (who became his right-hand men, in conducting roya l enterprises like temple building, stone quarrying, gem mining, etc.), directo rs and scribes of the harem, royal seal bearer, court herald, high steward of the chief royal memorial temples, generals, and so on. 121 A Moses would be simply one among many. Both Sethos [and Ramesses II signed treaties with the Hittite kings; the surviving one of Ramesses II shows the fo rmat so familiar in the whole



"Hittite" corpus. What is more, the documents in that case were not just sent to Egypt by the Hittites for Egypt's approval. The scribes at both courts produced drafts to be exchanged for mutual approval or amendment before the final document was settled. 122 So anyone in Egypt's "foreign office" would be able to learn of such documents in this epoch. Including a Moses, if there was one, and at court and (as a foreigner, with foreign language potential) quite likely to be in the "foreign" department. This last suggestion has to be just that, but it does explain how a Hebrew leader might later come to use this convenient and appropriate framework for the Sinai covenant. And the stipulations, law, not treaty, stipulations (ivb)? Here we have the other side of the coin. The "legal" content of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy has little in common with the social system of Egypt - but a great deal in common with the law collections and customs of the largely Semitic Near East. From studies made in recent decades it is clear that none of the known law collections, Near Eastern or biblical, aims to give a complete conspectus; they do often overlap in topic and also in treatment of subjects, bu t items or aspects present in one collection may not appear in some or any of the others. This book is not the place to tackle so vast a subject. Instead, a modest observation or two must suffice.123 There is a good deal of common ground between the biblical groups of laws (exclud ing religious regulations, which are in a separate sphere); it is significant that most comparisons between the biblical laws and external sources occur with the older collections - with Hammurabi in particular, not so much (e.g.) with Hittite or Middle Assyrian laws or later ones. In short, Moses (or his doppelganger) drew upon long-hallowed tradition for much that we find in the detailed laws of Exod. 21-2) and the rest. Even in Egypt the Hebrews were basically Semitic by social usage, and not Egyptians, and retained their own cultural background throughout. This material cannot be consigned to late "legal eagles" of the exile or afterward - it belongs by origin in the second millennium with its closest relations. In terms of the amount of "legislation" (leaving out purely reI igious matters)' it is interesting to compare the amount in the external sources and in Exodus to Deuteronomy. Hammurabi conta ins 282 enactments; the Hittite Laws somewhat over 200 laws (a few are lost); the Middle Assyrian collection at least 116 laws. The other collections are shorter (Lipit -lshtar,)8 laws; Eshnunna, 61 laws; others are too incomplete to compute). In Exod . 21- 2):9 one may find about 40 laws, and likewise in the "civil" parts of Deuteronomy (chaps. 15; 21; 22; 24; 25, omitting other matter). In Lev. 18- 20 are included up to 66 rulings outside of those connected with religious concerns. Numbers has hardly anything (up to 4 "civil" provisions) . Individually, Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuter-


Lotus Eating and Moving On -

Exodus and COl'ellant

onomy each compares well with the other shorter collect ions (Lipit -Ishtar; Eshnunna) . In total, at about 150 laws, they do not greatly exceed the Middle Assyrian collection, and modestly are distinctly shorter than the Hittite Laws (200+ ), and especially Hammurabi (282 laws). There is nothing here that could not be handled easily at Sinai, en rout e, and in the plains of Moab. None of this needed any great time to compile. In short, there is nothing phys icalJy exceptional about the various groups of material in the books Exodus to Deuteronomy that would not fit comfortably and easily into a short span of time, compositionally, late in the second millennium. The opposite has to be proved, not assumed. As for the role of a Moses, there is no factual evidence to exclude such a person at this period, or his having played the roles implied in Exodus to Deuteronomy. A large amount of inconclusive discussion by biblical scholars in almost two hundred years has established next to nothing with any surety, and has vacillated all the way between ext reme conservatism ("Moses wrote all the Pentateuch") and total nihilism ("There was no Moses, and he left nothing"). The basic reason for endless shilly-shallying and lack of real result is the massive failure to seek and use external, independent controls such as have been applied here and throughout. Merely ch uming over and overthe biblical texts exclusively in terms of subjective opinion will never be able to settle anything. There is no factual basis for either extreme, as will become even more apparent in the next t wo subsections.
(3) "Dwteronomic" Writitlg: Thirtewth versus Sever/th Cetltllry or Thirteenth and Seventh Centuries?

That the bulk of Deuteronomy in form and content is irrevocably t ied to usage in the late second millennium is a fact that clashes horribly with the hallowed speculations about the origins and h istory of " Deuteronom!c" thought that have been developed across two hundred years, and in particular with the last sixty years and with the "minimal ism" of the last decade or so. But antiqu ity of a conviction does not validate its tru t hfulness; after umpteen millennia of acceptance, who now believes in a flat earth? Hard facts, not time span of belief, indicate where the truth is most likely to be found. Traditional "critica l" belief suggests that the book of Deuteronomy was written in the seventh century, and that it (or a related writing) sparked off the reforms of Josiah in 621. The emphasis on obedience to deity, with consequent blessings, and even more on the dire consequences of disobedience, was then thought to have formed the dominant thinking of such prophets as Jeremiah, and of the wr iter(s)/editor(s) of the four books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and


Kings - to wh ich Deuteronomy was prefaced - to produce a continuous "Deuteronomic History" from Moses to the Babylonian exiJe.l24 Not all scholars accept this concept, but it is a popular view currently, and the ever-growing attribution of biblical passages to Deuteronom ist writer(s) has led virtually to a form of "pan-Deuteronism," with all the dangers of undue exaggeration. 125 It has also become axiomatic in some quarters that whatever the Deuteronomists wrote is theological fiction, not history. So we would be dealing with a movement exclusively of the seventh-sixth centuries that either adapted historical traditions to fit its theology or created imaginary, not real, "history" in the mold of its a priori theology. A late thirteenth -century Deuteronomy (or proto-Deuteronomy) automatically rules out this overall solution in terms of chronology; and associated evidence also ru les out the assumed elimination of history by theology. Fatal objections to the overall theses of a Deuteronomic history that offers only fic tion, based on a seventh -century Deuteronomy, are many; only a few symptom atic examples can be included here.
DeuterOIlO!l1ic writers/editors are historians, not theological fablelllongers.

See already pp. 48-51 above. The ancients habitually ascribed a role in their history to higher powers, their deities - as in war, for example. [t is not legitimate to condemn this feature as marking a nonhistorical episode in the Hebrew writings alldstill accept this same feature in provenly historical episodes in records from Egyptian, Hittite, Mesopotamian, or other such sources, commonly firsthand. If it is wrong in Hebrew texts, it is wrong in the others. If it is unavoidably part of a genuine historical account in the latter records, then it must be conceded to be so, or at the very least possibly so, in the Hebrew narratives. Nobody now (so far as [ know) believes in Amun, Ashur, Marduk, or Baa!Hadad, just as none are compelled to believe in deitylies still worshiped currently. A modern historian must not confuse beliefs of the ancients with modern belief. It has to be understood that "deuteronomic" writers generally imerpreted actual history; they did not invent it. The ancients (Near Eastern and Hebrew alike) knew that propaganda based on real events was far more effective than that based on sheer invention, on fairy tales. A laconic chronicle may record that King A warred against King 13 and was defeated. A royal annalist or a deuteronomist may, equally, claim that King A had offended a deity, and so the deity had punished him with defeat by King 13. To the ancients (within their beliefs), both versions would be true, and possibly to a modern believer if the deity were his or hers also. To a secular observer the laconic statement would be true (unless faulted by better sources), and the interpretative version should represent exactly the same degree of history (B defeated A), but with the obser300

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vat ion that the event was interpreted in a particular way by the ancient writer(s) concerned . That is the proper impartiality at which a true historian must :lim. So the fashion with some to dismiss "deuteronomically interpreted" mrratives as :lutomatically nonhistorical (and without explicit f:lctual d:lta to prove it) is gr:ltuitous, illegiti[mte, and bad methodology. Deuterollomie eo/leepts - 110 novelty. The first concept that was not a novelty is obedience. Ag:lin, :lbove, the DPCD syndrome has been traced b:lck to the mid- second millennium (pp. 237-38 above). Disobedience led to punishment by deity, and consequent contrition to deliverance in the eyes (and claimed experience) of many outside Israel up to a millennium before the seventh century. In Egypt, in fact, where obedience to maat(right doing and attitude, piety) in deference to deity to avoid punishment was the permanent norm, this is visible in our firsthand sources not just for kings but also for their subjects through 2,500 years (third millennium to Greco- Roman times);126 nor were the Egyptians alone in this. So the obedience-to-deity syndrome is !JOt a necessary hallmark of deu teronomic ghostwriters in Israel. Incidentally, I have yet to discover allY religion that positively urges upon its followers a doctrine or practice of regular di50bedience to deity! The second concept is exile mId Joss of land. As noted long ago, the concept and threat of loss of one's land and of going into foreign exile is not to be read as relating excl usively to the Babylonian exile. That event was merely the las! and most dr:lstic of its kind in preclassical Hebrew history; compare earlier, the capt ivities of the northern kingdom from Samaria in 722/720, and from G:llilee before that, circa 734. AS:l thre:lt :lnd as:l pr:lctice, it is universally :lttested from the early second millennium onward. In the Mari archives circa 1800/1700, a town Bakram is captured, and its citizens deported into exile at Mari. Further Mari mentions (under Zimri- lim) :lccount for other such deportations of up to 30,000 men .127 In the sixteenth century the Hittite king Hattusill took away the populace of two towns to serve the sun goddess of Arinna. 128 In the fifteenth century Tuthmosis III of Egypt took away into Egyptian exile 2,503 prisoners and 25,000 livestock (first campaign in Canaan), while his son Amenophis II is credited with transplanting over 100,000 assorted Syrians into Egypt in two such campaigns. A Theban stela of his son, Tuthmosis IV, mentions "The Settlement (such-&-such) with Syrians from the town of Gezer."129 The late fourteenth century finds the Hittite king Mursi l II moving whole population groups: minimally [5,500 in Year), about the same in Year 4, and a total of 66,000 in Year 5, besides other figures and dates.l3(1 In the thirteenth century Ramesses !! boasted of moving Nubians (from the south) to the (Delta) northland, Syrians (from the north) to Nubia (in the south), the ShasuAsiatics (from the east) to Libya (in the west), and Libyans to the eastern hills.



About 1180 Ramesses II[ boasted similarly; and actual Asiatic and Libyan settlements are known in Egypt in the fourtee nth to twelfth centuries and later.ul In the Near East, the same occurs then . [n the thirteenth century the Assyrian king Shalmaneser [ took away 14,400 prisoners from Hanigalbat (among others), and Tukulti -Ninurta I claimed 28,800 Hittite captives removed to Assyria. Then Tiglath-pileser! (ca. 1100) took away 4,000 and 20,000 men in his first and fifth years respectively; in 879 Assurnasirpal II peopled Calah with exiles, and in ten years of campaigning (859 and following) Shalmaneser III carried away some 44,400 people into Assyrian exile. m Thus the threat of exiling people (partiCll larly smaller groups and states) was an ever-present menace in the biblical world, even from Abraham and Moses' epochs, long before the notorious captivity in Nebuchadrezzar's Babylonia. The third concept had to do with a central sal1(:fuary versus purity. Great claims have been made that a keynote concept in Deuteronomy was emphasis on official worship only, at a central sanctuary; that the central sanctuary in question was at jerusalem; and that this was a josianic reform. There is no real support for most of this. The text merely states that the various offerings shall be brought to "the place that YHWH your God will choose as a dwelling for his name." without specification . As others have shown. this may allow a main central sanctuary, but does not needfully im ply a sole sanctuary. From Sinai to Shiloh, the tabernacle (whose existence need no longer be doubted) served as the main sanctuary; then, from David's t ime, a tent at jerusalem, and then the temple there from Solomon's time onward . Under Josiah, Jerusalem may well have been made in practice the sole sanctuary, because all the local worship places ("high places," etc .) had become sites of idolatry. In his time, purification of the cult from alien elements was the central concern . It is misleading to restrict consideration of his reform (as some have done) to 2 Kings 22- 23. Others have shown that a fuller picture can only be established by use of the additional data found in 2 Chron. 34- )5, which cannot be dismissed out of hand. 133 Fourth is a lengthy time gap and the issue of continuity of traditioll. Some may feel tlHll a six-hundred-year interval between a thirteenth-century Deuteronomy circa 1200 and reforms supposedly stimulated by it in 621 is a long "gap." However, such "opaque" periods are commonplace in our considerable but uneven knowledge of the biblical world; and the gap may, in any case, be illusory. First, gaps. Extrabiblical examples include the Egyptian Hymn to the Uraeus (serpent goddess), first known Linder Ramesses II (thirteenth century) and then only found again a thousand years later underthe Ptolemies, and the fest ival text of the god Sokar transmitted with very little change through 800 years (almost without further known witness so far) from the times of Ramesses II and III again to that of the Ptolemies. 134 We have, similarly, magical/medical

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papyri of the New Kingdom (fourteenth-twelfth centuries) in which two spells are replicated some 900 years later in copies from about JJo . lJ ~ And so on . Gaps very often are due to chance, because we do not yet possess sufficient source materials . Second, continuity. We also have ample examples of continuity across equally long spans of time, and not just from Egypt, one may add. Two examples will stand for many others. In Egypt a number of funerary spells first found in the Pyramid Texts (copies, ca . 2400-2200) recur in the la ter Coffin Texts (nineteenth-seventeenth centuries), and in some cases thereafter reappear in the New Kingdom Book of the Dead (fifteenth-twelfth centuries), through three manuscript phases spanning about a thousand years.1)6 [n the New Kingdom itself, the welcoming speeches by the god Amun to the king in triumphal pose smiting foes go through copies and slightly variant editions (Tuthmosis Ill, Amenophis Ill; Sethos [, Ramesses II, Merenptah, Ramesses III, Ramesses VI; Shoshenq I) during half a millennium, circa 1425-925.137 Like our Hebrew writings, nearly all of the foregoing are religious texts, but both transmissions that jump gaps and continuous transmissions occur in other categories of texts. In the Old Testament itself, the imagined gap between a thirteenthcentury Deuteronomy and a seventh -century Jeremiah is most likely illusory. The impact of an early Deuteronomy would be felt in other writings composed during that interval. It would no longer have to be arbitrarily and artificially restricted to the time after 62), The book of Joshua comes down at least to the time of the elders that followed him (ca . 1200), and probably into the very first phase of the judges' period; it knows of the Danite migrat ion to the north (W47), and the Philistines occur just once (1J:2, perhaps replacing the Anakim; cf. 11:22). So, as no other proven neologisms occur, the book could have been fi nalized in basic form near the start of the twelfth century; any "deuteron ism" in it would simply be the impact from the late thirteenth-century Deuteronomy. In turn, the book of Judges, in a wholly different format, was most likely composed at the beginning of the monarchy, by its implicit suggestion thrice over (18:1; 19:1; 21:25) that society was dissolving into godless and immoral chaos because there was no king in the period it describes to give a good lead throughout the land. In David's early days such an ideal was understandable, but hardly in later times. The use of deuteronomic concepts was much more obvious in Judges than in Joshua, with its tribal failures after Joshua, its statement of fail ure in obedience, and its grand sixfold cycle of DPeD. In a more anecdotal narrative format, Itot directly linked to the judges, the book of Samuel shows a third authorial mode. It may first have been written in the whirl of events around Solomon's accession . Then Kings - as transmitted to us - runs from the death of David (prelude to Solomon's reign) to the fina l crash in the 580s,


llnd II dosing note on Jehoillchin fllvored in Bllbylon in 562. Both SllmueJ and Kings show the overarching theme of fllithfulness/disobedience to YHWH throughout - t hey llre worthy successors to Joshull -Judges, but differently written llnd planned. They are "special interest" works, drawing on the kingdom daybooks (see chap. 2), and represent the voice of the prophets alongside the separate individual, proclamatory works by that group of men. To put all this in a nutshell, what we /lOW have is a series of four distinct works (Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings) in the nonnative or mainstream tradition of Yahwism, for which the terms "Deuteronomic" and "elitist" are too narrow and mistaken respectively, and a set of "De utero nomic histories," not a single "Deuteronomic history." And Deuteronomy itself is a wholly separate and foundational work before these. (4 ) Langl/age and Literary Transmission : An Ongoing Factor
It is all very well, of course (as I have done!), to talk glibly about specific books such as Deuteronomy and Joshua (and precursors such as Exodus and leviticus) being written in the period from about 1220 to u80 . But they could not then have been written in classical, standard biblical Hebrew as we know it in the present -day Hebrew Bible as transm itred by the Masoretes from sometime about the seventh century A.D . Yet Moses is credited with having written specific items (Exod. 17:14 [Amalekite war in a scroll]; Exod . 24:4 [the laws that preceded ]; Exod . 34:27-28 [preceding commands, Ten Commandments; cf. Dwt. 4:13; 5:22 ]; Num. 17:2-3 [names on staffs]; Num . 33:2 [itinerary of wilderness travels]; Deul. 31:9 [the Deuteronomy laws]; Deul. 31:22 [song of Deut . 32]). Likewise Joshua (Josh . 8:32 [law on plastered stones ]; Josh . 24:26 [wrote laws in scroll of law]). The considerable sections of Exodus-Deuteronomy where Moses appears in the third person fall into two groups: passages where someone wrote as his scribe in third -personalized dictation, and passages that represent a write-up of the present text either a short time after the events described or (as with Deut. 34) after Moses' death . Similar processes would apply even more to the book of Joshua. Figures such as Joshua (for Moses) or Eleazar and Phinehas (for Joshua) could have acted as scribal aides, much as did a Baruch for a Jeremiah in much later times. But in what form and language? We have evidence of a form of Canaanite in the glosses and items of non -Akbdian vocabulary that crept into the cuneiform texts of the Amarna letters of the fourteenth century.os These we may term late Canaanite, as opposed to traces of Canaanite in the early second mil lenn iu m or before ("early Canaanite") and in the mid-second millennium ("middle Canaanite"). To the cuneiform evidence for late Canaan ite may also

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be added the small but gradually growing corpus found in western Palestine of brief inscriptions scribbled or incised on pottery and sherds of the thi rteenth and twelfth cmtu ries. 139 The Amarna letters give liS tiny glim pses of Canaanite in the usage of officialdom, as these letters passed to and from the local kings in Canaan and their Egyptian overlord, the pharaoh. But the linear alphabetic jottings and incised items on pots and sherds come at least in part from a humbler situation, it would seem. They represent the lise of the simple linear alphabet by people who were IJot necessari ly scribal specialists at alL An alphabet of between twenty-two and twenty-eight letters was no great burden for someone to learn, in vivid contrast to the complex scripts and vast series of different signs that comprised them, in Egyptian and cuneiform. Hence from the fourteenth/thirteenth centu ry onward, the alphabet could be freely used for any kind of communication. The contemporary north Semitic texts found at Ugarit in north Phoenicia illustrate this to perfection. These too were written in an alphabet - bu t in simplified cuneiform characters, so that clay tablets could be used for writing the documents. And these include religious texts (rituals, god lists, myths), literary texts (legends), administrat ive lists, and a copy of a treaty with a Hittite king, amongst other th ings. In Canaan to the south, most records were evidently written on papyrus - and this has all perished. We know that the kings of Byblos used papyrus to keep thei r timber accounts ci rca 1080 (Wenamun te xt) - but of those dearly volum inous scrolls, no merest scrap survives. No wonder, really.140 In Egypt, home of papyrus with dry desert fringes, it has been estimated that some 99 percent of all papyri written from circa 3000 down to the advent of Greco-Roman times have perished completely. So, in the less preservative conditions of Canaan and Phoenicia, it is scarce wonder that nothing whatsoever has so far been found except for the batches of later papyri, such as the Wadi Dal iyeh group (ca . 300 B.C.), the Qumran/Wadi Murabba'at lots (Dead Sea Scrolls), and a sixth century B.C. scrap of a letter - all from desert caves. So the Amarna evidence and handful of pottery finds prove clearly that Canaanite was the dominant local tongue and could be readily expressed in alphabetic writing; Ugarit's durable alphabetic tablets show us what range of material we have missed in the lost papyri of Canaan. Thus we should consider a Moses or a Joshua writing on papyrus, skins, or even waxed tablets in alphabetic late Canaanite. During the two centuries that followed, circa 1200- 1000, sta ndard Hebrew evolved out of this form of Canaanite, probably bei ng fully formed by David's time. Copies of older works such as Deuteronomy or Joshua would be recopied, modernizing outdated grammatical forms and spellings, a process universal in the ancient Near East during the period from 2500 to Greco-Roman times. Until about the eighth century B.C ., the Hebrew script was entirely consonantally written . Then the


practice came in of using the "weak" letters to write also long vowels (wfor ufo; 'aleph for long a, y for long i, e, and h for long a, e). So the script remained until the Masoretes added the system of small vowel markers and other sllch symbols above, below, and within the original letters. Literary recopying was an art practiced throughout the ancient Near East for three thousand years. Schoolboy scribes made "howlers" in their schoo! texts, as most youngsters do down to the present. By contrast, experienced scribes at their best were able to transmit very accurate copies of works for cen~ turies, and to modernize archaic usages if called upon. Egyptian, Mesopotamian (Sumerian and Akkadian), Hittite, Ugaritic, and other texts exemplify all this. (5) A Sensible Outcome? The picture that emerges is of a group of West Semitic clans (collectively called "Israel") that fled from Egypt under a leader who had spent time in Sinai after an Egyptian court upbringing and education. These factors were crucial in his ability to lead the group through the Sinai terrain; for marshaling the skills of the craftsmen in the group to build a traditional Semitic "tabernacle" shrine, using Egyptian technology and motifs; and for formu lating a foundation docu ment ("covenant") making a nascent "nation com munity" out of his clans, using - again - a suitable model learned in his court days. The renewals of that covenant retained the same model forty years later when Joshua took the group into Canaan. The concepts in that covenant and strong sense of the importance of abed ience to their suzerain deity together were the basic formative influence in the growth of normative Yahwism as Israel's core religion, regardless of what Canaanite or other incrustations it acquired during the judges and monarchy periods. "Deuteronomic" is far too narrow and restrictive a term to use of this development. What happened in the late eighth century (Hezekiah) and then in the late seventh century (Josiah) was a reversion to older origins, a "purification," in the latter case, partly stimulated by recovery of a book of the covenant long lost in some dusty cupboard during the half-century reign of Manasseh plus Amon. The writing activity of the prophets came in two forms: books that collected their individual pronouncements (with the help of scribal aides; cf. Baruch with Jeremiah) and commentaries from their viewpoint upon Hebrew history from Samuel to the fall of the monarchy. A first book of Kings may have encompassed the period from David's death to the end of Samaria in Ahaz's and Hezekiah's time (1 Kings; 2 Kings 1- 17, with the closing peroration in 17:7ff.). A later prophet may then have added a third book of Kings, our 2 Kings 18- 25:26, down to about 580, the second and third books being put together as

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one. Finally, a generation later, the closing paragraph on the release of lehoiachin was added by an exilic prophet, ending the whole.

(iii ) Possib le Date Limits for an Exodus

Finally, a few words only on the much-discussed issue of the date of the exodus. Our contribution here will stay simply within the available range of the biblical and non biblical evidence, and the modes of reckoning bl0Wll to be used in biblical times both inside and outside the Hebrew Bible. No single item will be artificially privileged, risking distorting the whole.

(a) The 480 Era Years, 554 + xyz Aggregate Years Already in chapter 5 (pp. 159-60 above) the relationship was set out, of the series of aggregate years (counted up through the biblical books) to the 480 era years of I Kings 6:1and to real-t ime years of elapsed time. The essence of this was that the 554 + xyz years (about 596 years all told) readily fitted into the almost 300 real -time elapsed years (and hence in principle into the 480 as well, if so needed). This is a phenomenon that applies commonly in the biblical world, and the overlaps of contemporary rulers ("judges") in Israel's "First Intermediate Period" are no different in practice to those found in Egypt's First, Second, and Third Intermediate Periods, or in Mesopotamia among the thirdmillennium Sumerian city-states or among the rival local kingdoms of the IsinLarsa/Old Babylonian epoch of the early second millennium. As already stated, the 480 years may have in fact one of two origins. First, it could be an era date made up of twelve 40-year "full generations," such that 12 x 40 = 480; this interpretation is often propounded. The 40-year full generation comprises 20 years for one group to grow up to childbearing age, and then 20 years for their children to reach the same stage (this lies behind Num. 14:33). Twelve generations of roughly 22/25 years each in real-time count would give us the 288/300 years seemingly required by our data for a real -time span between an exodus about 1260/1250 (minimum) and 967 for Solomon's fourth year. The 12 x 40 type of origin should not be lightly dismissed. In the ancient Near East, the Hebrew Bible's own world (which ours is not!), such procedures were almost certainly in use. In Judg. 3:30 we have a simple example: the time of local peace that followed Ehud's strike against Moab lasted "80 years." It may well have done so; but the 80 does look very like a 2 x 40 years figure . Over in Mesopotamia, a similar phenomenon seems very likely to have operated with era


dates also. A text gives 720 years between llushumma and Tukulti -Ninurta I, kings of Assyria . T hat is not literally pract icable on other data; but as Reade has suggested, the scribes may have calculated 16 years to a reign (which is a true long-range average), such that the 45 reigns from one king to the other comes to 45 x 16 = 720 years. Similarly the Kassite Dynasty (which did not initially rule in Babylon) at 576 years may represent 36 rulers x 16 = the 576 years. Other "long-range" dates are susceptible to similar examination. 141 Thus the 12 x 40 = 480 would find parallel both in Hebrew (Judg. 3:30) and in the Near Eastern wider context. Or else, second, the 480 years are in fact a selection from the 554 + xyz years aggregate, on some principle not stated. This too is perfectly possible, bu t not hitherto sufficiently considered or convincingly worked out, so we shall look at this further. For an Israelite king looking back to the exodus as a distant point in time, the known periods of his people's activities and of peace in their troubled period of settlement in Canaan would have provided an ideal overall era. Let us test this out on OU T surviving biblical data; see table 28 on page 309. On this basis, excluding all foreign oppressions, and using solely biblical data for all but one and a half cases, we have a clear workable origin for the 480 years. The figure of [XJ2 years for Saul in 1 Sam. IJ:l is clearly defective, and reasons have been given already for restoring it as [3 J2 years, which fits well . We are then short of only two items: the rule of Joshua and the elders, and a figure for it. A balance of 5 years would complete the 480 . So we are in fact well Two equally workable options for the origin of 480 years (be it 12 x 40 or a nonoppressions aggregate). And a neat fit of 554 + xyz years into the real -time 300 years.


(b) Real-Tillie Factors Other points deserve brief mention. Again, on internal evidence, the ten successive high priests from Aaron to Zadok (1 Chron . 6:3-8) would cover the 300 years from the exodus to early in Solomon's reign; by contrast, the genealogy of David (only four generations) is clearly selective (Ruth 4:18 -22). For blustering Jephthah's propagandistic 300 years (Judg. ll:26), see above, p. 209 - it is fatu ous to use this as a serious chronological datum. The remark in Num. 13:22 tha t Hebron was built seven years before Zoan (Tanis) in Egypt is not quantifiable in terms of any chronology at present, except by baseless speculation, of which we have no need. Here external evidence is more helpful. First the form of the Sinai covenant. \"ihat was found in Exodus-Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and Josh . 24 ex308

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Table 28. Possible Pe ri od iza tion of t he 480 Years (I Kin gs 6: 1)

Period Yea r-period (40 S)
40 years 40 years 80 years (2 x 40 ) 40 years 40 years 40 years 40 years ( 20+ 20) 40 years

Refe rences Num. 11:33 ludg. PI ludg. no Judg n ! ludg. 8:28

I Sam. 4:18

Co nte nt Egypt to Sinai to Jo rdan Oth niel" s rule Peace after [hud Peace afler Debo rah Gideo ll Eli Samson's judgeshi]); 5.1.rnud's jloruit David 's reign

3- 4



Judg. 1 5:20; 1 Sam. 7:2

1 Kings 2:11

Yea r Pe ri ods {aggregale}


48 years (= 3 + 23

+ 22)

Judges Judges

Abirnelek, Tola, lair /ephthah, IbZllll, Elo n, Abdo n Saul's reigH End date of 48 0 years

31 years (= 6 + 7 +

+ 8)

To ta] Thro retical End To ta]

[3) 2 years 4 years to date 475 yea rs 5 yea rs? 480 yea rs


Sarno lJ:l

1 Kings 6:1

Fo r Joshua & eklns?

eludes not only any date of origin after 1200/1 ISO but also any date of orig in before 1400/1)60. Only with Suppiluliuma I (ca. 1360-1)20, contemporary of kings Amenophis III to Ay) did this format come into use. So a Moses in Sinai in 1447 could never have seen a format still to be invented half a cent ury into the fu ture! As for slavery at Raamses, it is known that long-neglected Avaris (its base) was first worked on by Horemhab (ca. 1320ff.), who built at the temple of Seth .


At this, his home town, Sethos I built II palace. And the work here culminllted in the vast projects of Ramesses II, from 1279 onward, for his new capital of PiRamesse, biblica1 Raamses by name and not only location . So the oppression proper would have run circa 1320- 1260/1250. In turn, as stated already, Pi~ Ramesse (becom ing defunct ca. 1130) was replaced by T"lnis as a Delta outport already before 1080 (after which Wenamuo sailed from there). And Pi -Ramesse slips from the public record entirely. The fourth -century references are hidden away in arcane contexts totally inaccessible to any Hebrew writer at any date, and do not count. Thus an exodus before 1320 would have no Delta capital to march from; after the expulsion of the Hyksos circa 1540 or 1530, the Eighteenth Dynasty kings built a fort and military compound but 110 new capital. Avaris rema ined a backwater until Horemhab and his Ramesside lieutenants (the future Nineteenth Dynasty) took matters in hand .142 Thus, if all factors are given their due weight (and despite inevitable imperfections in our knowledge), a thirteenth-century exodus remains - at present - the least objectionable dat ing, on a combination of all the datll (bib lical and otherwise) when those data are rightly evaluated and understood in their context.


Once more we may sum up, after our journey from Egypt's East Delta towns llnd pastures through Sinai (building a tabernade and making II covenant) and then up to Qadesh-Barnea. The essence of the picture that emerges in this chapter can be encapsulated under three headings: negatives, neutrals, and positives. Under negatives we may classify the following facts. No Egyptian records mention specifically Israelites working in the East Delta (or anywhere else), or a Moses who spoke for such a group, or an exodus by a group of this name (Israel). Nowhere in Sinai has a body of Late Bronze Age people passing through left explicit traces, still less traces that are labeled as Israelite. That applies also to Qadesh- Barnea. And so on. Modern complaints about lack of evidence are often heard . But they usually come from folk who have not done their homework or thought things through with sufficient rigor. Under neutrals we have to register the reasons for the defective state of our existing ancient documentation of all kinds, and those factors in al1ciellt attitudes and cultural usage that militate against our ever recovering the kind of Byzantine- or medieval-style "proofs" that ostensibly "critical" scholars llnd naJW

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Exodus and COI'eHant

ive folk alike seem to ha nker after. It is no use asking the p haraohs to blazon t heir defeat and loss of a top ch<1riot squ<1dron high on temple w<1lls for all to see. Egypti<1n gods gave only victories to kings - and defeats indic<1ted divine disapproval, not <1ppl<1use! It is no use looking for <1dministrative registers giving the Hebrews "customs clearance"to cle<1r out of Egypt. In fact, 99 percent of all N ew Kingdom papyri are irrevocably lost (administrative and otherwise), the more so in the sopping mud of t he Delta; the few survivors h<1il from the dry sands of S<1qqara and Upper Egypt, far <1way from Pi-Ramesse's brickfields.143 A handful of wine-vintage dockets from broken jars is the sum total of our administrative texts so far recovered from Pi -RamesseP44 No b u ildings at Pi- Ramesse are above ground level, either mighty temples or proud palaces - so why should we expect to find the flee ting mud and reed hovels of slaves, long since returned to the mire? And a group of people traveling through Simi's landscapes would Hot be burdened with tonloads of clumsy pottery specially to delight archaeologists when they themselves expected to go from Sinai within a year into Canaan; and still less so during their unplanned, muchextended wilderness travels. Compare, long before, other margin-land travelers who explicitly used W <1ter skins (Gen . 21 :14), not clumsy <1mphorae! That goes for their visits to Q adesh-Barnea as well. Under positives, the picture is far from a total blank. A series of significant features may be briefly enumerated . ( 1) Exoduses happened in the second millennium, and the lsr<1elite one is echoed <1ll over the Hebrew Bible's writings as <1 key event . (2) lsr<1el (<1S a people group) <1nd neighbors Edam <1nd MO<1b are mentioned in firsth<1nd Egypti<1n sou rces shortly before 1200; they were for real then. (3) The Ramesside Nineteenth Dynasty was a particularly cosmopolitan epoch in Egypti<1n history <1nd culture; Semites and others abounded in Egypt i<1n society at all levels, from Ph<1Taoh's court down to slaves. (4) The Hebrew narr<1tives in Exodus to Deuteronomy directly reflect earthy re<1lity, not burgeoning f.1nt<1sy. Salt -tolerant reeds, water from rock, habits of qU<1ils, kewirs, etc. reflect rea/lool conditions, req ui ring local knowledge (not book learning in B<1byloll or Jerusalem) . These narratives are thus in total contr<1st to such texts as the "King of Battle" t<1le of Sargon of Akkad, with mount<1ins bounded with gold and boulders of lapis landi gemstone, and trees with thorns sixty cubits (100 feet) 10ngP 45 (5) The ban on going by a north route to Canaan is a di rect response to Egyptian military presence there in precisely the thirteenth century. (6) The tabernacle is an ancient Semitic concept, here with Egyptian technology involved, all from pre- 1000, even centuries earlier. (7) The form and content of the Sinai covenant fit only the late second millennium, on the evidence of ample firsthand sources. (8) Brick -slaves were not d iplomats; the format of covenant demands a leader from court ci rcles at that time who did learn



of such things there. We would be obliged to invent a Moses if one were not already available. (9) The apparent gap of 600 years between the origin of Deuteronomy and its possible seventh-century role is nothing unusual, and is most likely a modern illusion, as biblical texts exist which should be placed in that "gap." (10) The so -called Deuteronomic theology is wrongly so described; its main features (DPeD and other concepts) go back to at least the second millennium, and are not special to Israel an}"vay. And, as already demonstrated in chapter 2 (using firsthand examples from known history), ancient inclusion of theological elements in narratives does Itot automatically turn them into fiction. In the light of all the foregoing considerations, the exodus and Sinai events are not hereby proven to have happened, or the tabernacle and covenant, etc., to have been made then. But their correspondence not just with attested realities (not Sargon-style fantasy) but with known usage of the late second millennium B.C. and earlier does favor acceptance of their having had a definite historical basis.


Founding Fathers or Fleeting Phantoms - the Patriarchs

Now we step still further back in time, if our sources are to be believed . Early in Exodus Moses is shown being commissioned by a deity called not simply El(ohim), "God," or YHWH, but also "the God of your father" and "the God of Abraham . . . of Isaac and ... of Jacob" (Exod. ):6, cf. 2:24; ):15 -16, cf. 6:3; "my fa ther's God," 18:4). Who were these three men, evidently earlier than Moses? The main narratives of the book of Genesis purport to give us the answer: they were men in three successive generations, the last of whom (Jacob) also came to be called Israel. He and his family are described as migrating from Canaan into Egypt to escape famine; his sons and their families are treated as ancestral to the clan groups t hat shared the name Israel in Moses' t ime, seem ingly III uch later.



As with the exodus, the settlement in Canaan, and largely the united monarchy, here too we have a set of narratives th<lt constitute the sole direct source on their subject. No external, firsthand source of Moses' time or earlier explicitly mentions Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, or the la tter's sons. The only suggested extra biblical mention of Abraham is in the topographical list (nos. 71 -72) of Shoshenq I (Shishak) of Egypt in 925, giving what may be read as "The Enclosure of Abram," and which is fairly widely accepted. But this is not absolutely certain; it could be interpreted "Enclosure of the Stallions" Cabbirim), although the Negev region where this place was located is not exactly famous for horses. However, the


Negev is mentioned as one of Abraham's haunts (Gen . 12:9; 1):1,3; 20:1; also Isaac then, 24:62), which would well fit with a place being named after him. 1 The Genesis account of the patriarchs is p:lrt of the overall scheme of the book . Its explicit fonn:lt shows eleven successive segments, the first (creation) without a separate title (1:1-2:3), then ten more, each with an explicit heading, "The Succession of ..." (once, "The Document of the Succession of ..." [5:1 I). The headings occur as follows: first at 2:4, second at p, third at 6:9, fourth at 10:1, fifth at 11:10. Then the sixth:lt 11:27, seventh:lt 25:12, eighth at 25:19, ninth at 36:1, and tenth at 37:2. The firs t five rebte to the distant epochs before Abr:lham :lnd his father Terah (d. chap. 8, below), while the last five constitute the" Patriarchal Narratives": AI: Succession of Tem}, (to Abraham), 11:27- 25=11 plus A2: Succession of Ishmael (descendants), 25:12-18 BI: Succession of Isaac (to Jacob), 2p9-35:29 plus B2: Sr~ccessiol1 of Esau/Edolll (d escendants), 36:1 -37:1 C: Succession of Jacob (to Joseph), 37:2-50:26 The conten t of these "internal documents" of Gen. 11-50 may be summarized : Table 29. Outline of Pat ria rchal Record
AI: Terah (to Abraham)

Terah's activities. His family compr ised three sons and grandson (Lot) at "Ur of the Chaldees" (1l :28, 31) . The third son (Haran) died; Terah took others (Abraham, Nahor) and Lot northwest to H:lrran on the Balikh, tributary of the Euphrates, where Terah died (1 1:27-32). 2. Abraham travels OIl. Abraham and his own close family moved southwest and south through Syria into Canaan to Shechem, then BetheilAi district, and Negev. A quick visit to Egypt; then Lot parted from Abraham over pasture (12-13) . 3. Abraham ill Canaan. Abraham repulsed an alliance of eastern invaders (14), made a personal covenant with his deity (1 5). had Ishmael by a surrogate mother Hagar (16), underwent a rite, and was promised a son via his wife (17-18) . He saw the fall of Sod om and Gomorrah, from which Lot fled (18-19), had dealings with Abimelek of Gerar (20, 21); Isaac was born and Ishmael sent away (21). Tests came, and Sarah's death required a burial cave (22-23). He obtained a wife for Isaac from Harran, remarried (having other sons), and died (24-25) .


Founding Fathers or Fleeting Phantoms A2: Succession of Ishmael Sons of Ishmael. 2. Their clans and location (25) .

the Patriarchs

BI: Succession of Isaac

Family alld conflicts. Birth of Isaac's twins, rivals Esau and Jacob (25); con~ flict broke out with Ger:lr over lifestyle :lnd wells (26) . 2 . Jacob's adventures abroad. Jacob W:lS sent to the H:lrr:ln br:lnch of the family, worked for L:lban, acquiring two wives, Leah and Ihchel (27-31). 3. Life back in Canaan. Peace with Sau (32-33), trouble at Shechem (34), back to Isaac until latter's dea th (35).

B2: Succession of Esau/Edolll Esau's family. He moved on to Seir/Edom (36). 2. Family line. Series of Esau's descendants (36). 3. Kings ill Edom, "before any iI/ Israel." List (36) (37=1 naan).

Jacob stayed in Ca-

c: Succession of Jacob
Joseph to Egypt. Joseph sold into Egypt (37), and Judah in trouble (38) . 2. Joseph ill Egypt. Joseph's Career - steward, in prison, at court (39-41) . 3. Famine and feU/lion . Jacob's sons sought gra in in Egypt, and found Joseph

(42- 45)

4. Filla/e. J:lcob and t he family joined Joseph in Egypt; account till their deaths (46-50).
Throughout these narratives the patriarchal clan appears as basically a group of pastor:llists wit h sheep and cattle, regularly transhumant (Negev/ Bethel area/Beersheba district) but could be sufficiently "tied" to a district to grow crops (chap. 26, Isaac). Family life was a major concern; their religion involved building (temporary?) altars (as ne:lr Shechem and Bethel, 127-8 [and 33:20; 3):1, 6J; cf. 13:4, 18; at Moriah, altar was for a burnt offering, 22:9, 13; at Beersheba, 26:25; stone pillars set up and anointed as memorials, 28;18; 3):14). We now must apply the same kinds o f tests to this narrative and its contents as in previous chapters. Sections 2-4 attempt this, to test the degree of reality/fantasy, and to note any date indicato rs.




Here it will be more practical to present the subject by themes, not in a tive order, so that related matters may be conveniently kept together.



As remarked long ago by Oppenheim, "there seem to have been very few periods in the history of the region [= Mesopotamia [ when ... (as in the Old Babylonian period) . . . a private person could move around freely."! At other times urban dwellers were not commonly great travelers, unless acting in specific capacities (merchants, envoys, military activities, etc.). "Ur of the Chaldees" is undoubted ly to be identified with the famous ancient city of Ur in south Babylonia (south Iraq), now Tell el -Muqayyar, and not with sundry Ur(a)s (or Urfa) in northern Mesopotamia . "Chaldees" is a qualification of later date than the pre-Mosaic period; it may have been added between 1000 and 500, precisely to distingu ish the patriarchal Ur from possible northern counterparts. The Kaldu people (to which Heb. Ka5'dil/J corresponds) lived in south Babylonia, probably from the late second millennium onwa rduse of their name indicates clearly a belief in a southern location for biblical Ur in the first millennium .) Terah and his family may have dwelled in the city proper. But ifthey were already pastoral ists, they may equally have lived in rural settlements around Ur, like other such t ribal people who gave their names to districts around major Babylonian cities, particularly in the early second millennium. Such were Sippar-AwnanuIn and Sippa r-YakhrllrlllTI around Sippar, taking their names from the tribal groups Awnanum (or Amnanum) and Yakhrurum known froIn the Mari archives:~ At Ur itself a Sutean encam pment apparently existed opposite someone's abode by the city gate. Settlements of the Mare-Yamina (socalled Benjaminites) were close by other urban centers, also early second millennium. 5 Pastoralist tribal groups ranged far and wide in the early second millen nium. From the Mari archives we learn that segments of the Mare-Yamina set tled not only around Mari itself and nearby Terqa but had reached far eastward to the Tigris and southeast into Babylon ia (around Uruk, Larsa, and Sippar). Northward from Mari they ranged through the "Upper Lands" (Gebel Sinjar, Tur Abdin, the Upper Khabur River). Westward they (like Terah) were at home arou nd Hanan (by the river Balih) . Sou thwestward across the Euphrates they

Foundi1lg Fathers or Fleetillg Phantoms -

the Patriarchs

went on to Gebel Bishri, and turn up in Syria all the way from lam had (Aleppo) to Qatna, and into Amurru (central Syria, by t he Mount Lebanon range) .6 From L<lrs<l in the e<lst to Amurru in the west, the w<lnderings of segments of the Mare~ Yamina cover all but the extremities of the journeyings ofTerah and Abraham from Ur to Canaan. Pastoralists were not the only travelers across the Near East, then or at other periods. Official envoys tr<lveled around at all periods, especially in the early second millennium when the network ran all the way east-west from Elam to Hazor in Canaan. The same with merchant caravans, from Babylon and Ashur (Assyria) far northwest into Anatolia, even to the Black Sea. We have lists of stopping places and transit times, effectively itineraries, for such routes? These various routes can be placed on the map, at least in their essentials . In later times (late second/early first millennium), the general movement of steppe tribes into agricultural areas with their urban centers tended to be more or less from north(west) to south(east) so far as Mesopotamia was concerned. So also for the Arameans. But in the early second millennium this northwest to southeast drift is not the sole current of movement, despite erroneous claims to the contrary. Certa inly we have followed the occurrences of (e.g.) the Mare-Yamina, from the southeast, to the north, to the northwest, west, and southwest. But within that great arc there were all manner of movements and eddies. As Kupper long ago observed, pastora[ists who penetrated the mainly agricultural lands of anciently "urban" southern Baby[onia would have h<ld limited scope for their profession, <lnd would <It times have again moved back northwest to more open pasturages, only to be replaced by more newcomers in their turn . He justly remarked, "It is in this constant flux and reflux of people on the move that one may fittingly situate the migration of Abraham, going back up from Ur to Harran, his true homeland."8 We cannot assume that Terah and his forebears had always lived in Ur; he might earlier have come south from the northwest as Kupper implied. The suggestion has sometimes been made to connect Terah and his forebears (or at least their names) with places well northwest of Babylonia, within the ambit of Mari and Harran, within the vast western arc of the course of the Euphrates. The Mati archives contain ample references to the dties of Harran (at modern Harran/EskiHarran) and Nakhur (Nahor), of less certain location. The "dty of Nahor" in Gen. 2pO is either this latter town or (less likely?) simply a synonym for Harran. The lown Nakhur/Nahor flourished from the later third millennium through the second millennium into the thirteenth century. Then it only recurs several centuries later as Til -Nakhiri (seventh century), i.e., as an old site abandoned and then resettled ("Nahor-mound").9 Around Harran there may have been other such settlements that also reflect names of Abraham's ancestors . But


lit present only the lllte mme-forms surv ive; II Til-(shll)-Turakhi would represent the resettlement (ninth century) of lin llncient Turakh or Tirakh (cf. Terah),l0 a later Sarugi may reflect Serug,ll and so on . Settlements are often named after people in all places and ages; it is also true that people were (and still are) named from places, toO.12 Thus a Terah might have had family origins around Harran and Nakhur, followed the common "drift" southeastward, in his case to Ur, and t hen returned north with his family. Cf. maps, fig . 42.


Pol itics and commerce were not the only driving forces for travel. Longdistance marriages are at home in this period, as in others. Just as we have those wealthy sheikhs Abraham and Isaac sending off to their relatives in Nahor or Harran to obtain brides for Isaac and Jacob, so in the early second millennium we also find Shllmsi-Adad I of Assyria securing in marriage Bel tum, daughter of Ishkhi-Adad king ofQatm, for his son, Yasmah -Adad, Assyrilln king of Mar i, across a similllr span of distance; Mari kings of either dynasty (Lim or Assyrian) kept up steady relations with distant Qatna in central Syria . O f course, there were a good number of international royal marriages a few centuries later in the late second millenniu m (between Egypt, Haui, Babylon, Mitanni, etc.). But these were between great empires of widely differing origins, not between leading West Semitic local families, and between "Amorite" local states of north/central Syria and Syro-Mesopotamia.D


In Gen. 12:10 - 20 we find Abraham seeking relief from famine in Canaan by visiting prosperous Egypt. The pharaoh fancied his wife until Abraham untruthfully alleged that she was his sister. Then. enriched but disgraced, he was sent back out of Egypt. These things were very true to rea l Ufe, not least in the early second mil lenn iu m. O ne of the best -known painted scenes from ancient Egypt is in the tomb chapel of Khnumhotep II at Beni Hasan, circa 1870. This shows thirtyseven "Asiatics" visiting Egypt, bringing eye paint; their leader bears the good West Semitic name Ab -sharru (fig. 37).14 When the Egyptian courtier Sinuhe fled Egypt for Canaan at the death of Amenemhat I, circa 1944 iI.C., he was rescued from dying of thirst by a local tribal pastoralist "who had been in Egypt."15 A line of forts ("Walls of the Ru ler") had been built by the latter pha3.8

Foundillg Fathers or Fleetillg Phan toms -

the Patriarchs

raoh, as Sinuhe tells us, to repel Asiatics - dearly, the pharaohs of the period had to limit and control their Canaanite would-be visitors! As Gen. \2:18 makes clear, the king himself upbraided and dismissed Abraham, evidently from his palace (12:15) . There is no reason whatever to imagine that this all happened at the capital Memphis, most of 100 miles south from the northeast Delta. For during the Twelfth to Fifteenth Dynasties (ca. 1970 -1540), the Egyptian kings (Twelfth/Thirteenth Dynast ies) had an East Delta residence at Ro-waty (ruins at Ezbet - Rushdy), near Avaris (center of the god Seth), which in turn the Hyksos rulers (Fifteenth Dynasty) used as their East Delta base. 16 Before the twentieth century B.C., no such arrangement is known; and again, there was no royal residence there during the Eighteenth Dynasty (ca . 1540-1295), merely a fort compound. 17 Then the Nineteenth Dynasty built a new residence city, Pi- Ramesse, used only until circa 1130. Thus the visits by an Abraham or a Jacob to a pharaoh at an East Delta palace are only feasible in Egyptian terms within circa 1970-1540, if they are not to be turned into contemporaries of Moses! Cf. fig. 36 . Suffice it to say that the pharaohs were commonly partial to attractive foreign ladies, as finds and texts for the Middle and New Kingdoms attest. IS And Pharaoh's detailing men to escort Abraham out of Egypt is the reverse pendant to an ea rlier king's detailing men to escort the returning courtier Sinuhe back illto Egypt (ca. 1850).


Here a compact but vivid narrative depicts how one alliance of four kings from the north and east sought to reimpose a twelve-year overlordship on a group of five kings around the Dead Sea area, carrying off Lot (who lived there) with their loot . When informed, Abraham set off north, vanquished the retreating force by night attack, and retrieved Lot and the loot. With the king of Salem (Jerusalem?), Abraham gave a thank offering to EI- Elyon, and the retr ieved goods back to the king of Sodom . Despite its obvious clarity, this narrative has remained opaque to most biblicists, simply because its cultural setting was long unknown to them and they have largely failed to accept that setting once it was made clear. Several featu res in the narrative find ready clarification if one looks at the appropriate external data. We consider, first, the sets of rival alliances. In the west (Syria -Palestine, the Levant), such alliances of several kings one may find at all periods where written records are available for the region. In the late second millennium we have the volatile local al!iances among the Canaanite kings who feature in the Amarna letters. In the first half of the first millennium we have the long series


of alliances in Syria (later including Israel, then Judah) against successive kings of Assyria. This illustrates the attitude of the five Dead Sea valley kings, but noth ing more. But with the eastern alliance things are radically different. Here the kings are c!earlyeastern and northern. Chedor-laomer is an Elamite name (Kutir + deity), and appropriately he is entitled a king of Elam, an ancient state adjoining south Babylonia and the head of the gulf in southwest Iran . l9 Tid'al, king of Goyim or "peoples,"bears an early Hittite name, Tlldkhalia,and his title is a fuir equivalent of the "paramount chiefs," mba '1/111 rabiulII, known in Anatolia in the Twentieth -nineteenth centuries, or as chief of warrior groups like the Ummanmanda. 20 Amraphel bears a seemingly Semitic name, and the name of his kingdom, Shin'ar, stands for Babylonia (cf. Gen . 10 :10) in Hittite, Syrian, and EgypTian sources in the later second millenniuIn. 2 l Ellasar may be there too, but is not definitely identified. But its king Arioch bears a name well attested in the Mari archive as Arriwuk/Arriyuk in the early second millennium and Ariukki at Nuzi ( mid- second millennium). So he may be north Mesopotamian. 22 Thus the personal names fit the regions they ruled and correspond with real names and known name types, even if the individuals are not yet identified in external sources. This is hardly surprising, given the incompleteness of data for most regions in the ancient Near East for the third, and much ofthe early second, millennia; even the great Mari archive covers only about fifty to seventy years. However, by contrast with the Levant, this kind of alliance of eastern states was only possible at certain periods. Before the Akkadian Empire, Mesopotamia was divided between the Sumerian city-states, but this is far too early for our narrative (pre-lJoo) . After an interval of Gut ian interference, Mesopotamia was then dominated by the Third Dynasty ofUr, whose intluence reached in some form as far west as north Syria and Byblos. After its fall, circa 2000, Mesopotamia was divided between a series of kingdoms: lsin, Larsa, Eshnllnna, Assyria, etc., with Mari and various local powers in lands farther north and west. This situation lasted until the eighteenth century, when Hammurabi of Babylon eliminated most of his rivals. From circa 1600/1500 onward, Assyria and Babylon (now under Kassite rule) dominated Mesopotamia, sharing with none except brietly Mitanni (ca. 1500 to mid- thirteenth century) within the Euphrates' west bend, and the marginal Khana and Sea-land princedoms were eliminated in due course. Thus, from circa 2000 to 1750 (1650 at the extreme), we have the one and only period during which extensive power alliances were common in Mesopotamia and with its neighbors. 21 Alliances of four or five kings were commonplace and modest then. The most famous reference to larger alliances is given us by one Mari letter: "'There is no king strongest by himself - 10 or 15 kings follow Hammurabi of Babylon, and so for Rim -Sin of

Foundi1lg Fathers or Fleetillg Phan toms -

the Patriarchs

Larsa, and so for Ibalpiel of Eshnunna, and so for Amutpiel of Qatna; but zo ki ngs follow Yarim-lim of Yamhad" (Aleppo).24 What is more, it is ollly in this particular period (ZOOO-1700) that the eastern realm of Elam intervened extensively in the politics of Mesopotamia - with its armies - and sent its envoys far west into Syria to Qatna . Never again did Elam follow such wide-reaching policies. So, in terms of geopolitics, the eastern alliance in Gen . 14 must be t reated seriously as an archaic memory preserved in the existing book of Genesis (fig. 41). Moreover, envoys from Mari went regularly to Hazor in Canaan.23 Second, there was a t radition of Mesopotamian kings intervening in Syria many centur ies before the Assyrian Shalmaneser III and his successors descended "like a wolf on the fold ."26 Back in the twenty-third century, Sargon and Naram -Sin of the Akkadian Empire both marched west to the Amanus, and possibly to the Mediterranean, and up to the Taurus Mountains if not also beyondP In the nineteenth century Yakhdun -Iim of Mari led a military exped ition west, up to the forested Syrian mountains and to the Mediterranean Sea, to which he made offerings, imposing tribute on local rulers and also subduing another group of rebel ki ngs, just as t he eastern allies did in Gen. 14.28 A little later, circa 1800, Shamshi -Adad J of st ill more dist ant Assyria could boast that "I erected a stela in my great name in the land of ~ban(on), on the shore of the Great l = Mediterranean ] Sea." Even more, Shamshi-Adad I actually mobi lized a vast force of over zo,ooo troops to send into Syria, to help his friend the king of Qatna - a force that was sent down south of Qatna, via Qadesh and Rahisu (the Ruhizzi of the Amarna letters) and Lebanon, with Canaanites involved not quite so far as the Dead Sea of Gen. 14, but close!29 Third, t he text of Yakhdun-lim of Mari shows striking affinities overall with the basics of the na rrative in Gen . 14. There are two differences in detail: Yakhdun -Iim acted on two fronts (south and west from Mari), and it was Abraham, not the invaders, who finally triumphed in Gen . 14. Naturally Yakhdunlim speaks from an eastern/northern invader's viewpoint, whereas Gen. 14 speaks from the westerners' viewpoint. But once these factors are allowed for, t he congruity of actions and themes remains striking; see table 30 on page 3Z2 . It need only be added that Yakhdun-lim prefaces his entire account with a religious dedication to the god Sham ash, who accompanied him on his campaigns. Without doubt Yakhdun -lim's firsthand inscription is much more florid and far more "theologically" oriented than the essent ially plain, almost laconic Gen. '4 report. So, on the usual antireligious criteria against the historicity of theological coloring that biblicists commonly adopt, Gen. 14 should by rights constitute a far more definitely factual and reliable report than Yakhdunlim's! Which, of course, runs counter to common prejudice against the historicity of Gen. \4. But that narrative deserves a fairer hearing .


Table 30. Yakhdun -l.i m and Genesis 14

Yakhd un-lim: S (1St raid and vassals implied. no t cited) Revolt, 3 vassals, II. Ya hdun- lirn: \V lSI raid on W. made va ssals. II. Ul -66



, lSt raid. and

m,.d ~

vassal s

lSI raid. and made vassals ( 1-4) Revolt (4)



Securl'd timlkr & viclo ry. II. 51-66

3. 2nd raid, victory (21ld ) r.lid, victo ry, II. 80-98 Victo ry in W (5-12) Abr.lm victory (13 -16) 1. Rdigious cekbration 5. Otha acts. Dedication text & temple: all; 99-t07 Curse: harm name & l('mp1e, II. 118fT. Made o fTerings to Med. Sea (45); temple
(See previous)

Melkisedeq ce remony & tithe (17-20) Settling s]X>i1s (21-24)

Fourrh, a few details . Niglltrilllcattacks (as in Gen. 14:15) in ancient Near Eastern warfare are very well attested; cf. above, p. 168. 30 The religious COIlc/U5;011 to a campaign, whether Yakhdun lim's or Abraham's, was always the natural climax, as can be seen from innumerable examples (a simple fact that biblicists will have to accept, such that verses 18' 20 are integral to the narra tive). Thus the sets of war scenes on the walls of temples in New Kingdom Egypt (especially ca. 1300 -1l60) almost always culminate in the king presenting the spoils of his success to the gods, and sometimes he is commissioned by them beforehand as well. 31 Assyrian kings commonly began their annalistic texts with invocations to deities, and after a campaign might even dictate a letter to their god, reporting on the campa ign .32 In the West Semitic world, on his stela Zakkur king of Hamath (ca. 800) blends his war report with thanks to his deity;3l and so on. The literary format is that of an individ ual report, 1I0t of a continuous chronicle (as wrongly claimed by van Seters). Both Yakhdun -Jim and Gen. 14 are of the same type, and are wh olly distinc t from the kinds of continuous chronicles best known from Mesopotamia in the first millennium, which consist of staccato reports running through a whoJe series of years and of reigns. In any case, the "continuous" type of chronicle was /Jot invented in the first millennium but already existed from the eighteenth century (Tu m mal; Mari), the mid-second millennium (Old Hittite), and the late second millennium (fragments under Tiglath-pileser I, end of twelfth century).34 In short, it is entirely reasonable to trace back the

Foundi1lg Fathers or Fleetillg Phantoms -

the Patriarchs

history of the main content of Gen. mu m.


to the first half of the second milJen-


Until recent years, almost no tre:lties were known between about 2000 :lnd 1500 B.C. Work :It Mari and Tell Leilan h:ls produced almost a dozen treaties, not yet fully published. 35 [n the four or five fonml documents available so far, there is a consistent format: deities are listed as witnesses, by whom oath is taken; then the stipulations; and finally (in complete versions) curses against infraction. Cf. table 25: 1[1, p. 287 above. This forma t is wholly distinct from those current both in the third millennium and in the middle and late second millennium, and later (cf. tables 25, 26, p. 287 above). The Mari archives teem with reports of the process of the negotiation and making of treaties, which is not identical with the finished, written product, but contains the basic elements, usually excluding curses until the final document was drawn up and inscribed. This fact is im portant (as with the Sinai covemmt, above). Thus in Gen . 21:2)-24 (Abram I l3eersheba I), 21:27- )) (Abramll3eersheba [1),26:28 -)1 (lsaac/Gerar), and )1:4454 (Jacob/Laban),36 we have very concise reports of the process of making four distinct and successive treaties between the three successive Hebrew patriarchs and Gerar (Abraham, Isaac) and Laban (Jacob). We are not given form:ll documents in extenso; we :Ire just given brief accounts of the actual process of enact ment, as often at Mari. Nevertheless, when tabulated, the content of these four treaties does correspond quite closely to what we find in both the process of enactment and the final documents at Mari and Tell Leilan, and ItOtto what was current at other periods. During the treatY-lmking process at M:lri and Tell Leilan, on preliminary "small tablets," curses were not included; they appear only in the final, validated document. Only symbolic rites of punishment for infringement, such as kill ing a donkey foal, denote their implicit presence. The enactment could include exchange of gifts (:IS did At:lm-rum with AshkurAdad), and a shared meal (ditto, drank from the same CUp).37 All of this is found both in the MaTi/Leilan data and in the little Genesis corpus; for the Genesis series, see table )1 on page )24. The idea that the treaties of Abraham and Isaac are mere literary doublets is nothing more than an artificial fiction created by a false distinction between nonexistent "sources," as others have shown. That Abimelek of Cerar should have successive treaties with Abraham and Isaac is no more a "doublet" than (e.g.) Talmi-sharruma of Aleppo having successive treaties with the two Hittite kings Mursil " and Muwatallis " ( first summarized in the second), or than Kurunta king ofTarkhuntassa having suc3'3


Table 31. The Treaties of Genesis 21- 31

Elemenh Maril Leilan yeo Gen. 11: Beersheba I Gen.ll: Beers h eba II )0: gift, I:nnbs Gen. 16: l~a3', Gerar (29: YHWI-I ) Gen. )1: JacoblLabM 11: covt; 50:


23b: God

51f: ca irn, stda



23<1 -:/4: swear 23" good neighbors


31: swore oath

28.31: oath

53b: oath

Stipulalions Q rcillony


Job: ac.;:eptcd, wcll " Abram's

)J: trff pl3ntc>d

29: good neighbors


52: rcsp<Xt boundary

y~ s :



( in narr.) CurS<' ( Final draf!)

sacrifice. & meal

()1: implied )

53: God, judge

cessive tre<lties with no fewer th<lll three Hittite kings, Muw<lt<lllis II, Hattl! sill! !, <lnd Tudkh<llia IV. There <lre no "doublets" or triplets here, and none need be found in the Genesis examples either, except on flawed a priori theory.38 These tre<lties or group COVell<lnts must not be confused wit h the strictly personal religious coven<lnts in Genesis between <In individu<ll and his deity. These consist simply of a promise from deity to his human client and <l confinmtory sign, as witness. Examples of this kind are Noah (Gen. 6:8; 9:9f.; sign: minbow); Abraham, first (Gen. 15:9-21; sign: furnace and lamp); Abraham, second (Gen. 17:2; 4-9; signs: new name, circumcision); Isaac, implied (Gen. 17:19, 21 ; cf. 26:24-25); and Jacob (Gen . 28:12-19; pillar as witness of vision) . These form a consistent series as a group. Later examples from David onward are less distinctive.


In all times, cultures, and places, married couples have sought to have offspring who would carryon the fami ly name, inherit the fam ily estate (be it palaces or pea nuts), and ca re for them in old age in the days before annuities and retirement homes. In antiquity, if couples could not h<lve children in the n<ltural way, the ide<ll <lnd regul<lT solut ion, then substi tutes h<ld to be found . In the pat riarchal narr<ltives, more th<ln one option was aV<lil<lble: adoption of a nonrelative or producing a child by another woman (a proxy) .


Foundi1lg Fathers or Fleetillg Phantoms -

the Patriarchs

(i) An Heir by Ado ption Having no son by Sarah, Abraham went first for adoption. He had a large household and following (cf. his 318 armed retainers, Gen . 14:14) and wealth "on the hoof" (cf. 12:16; 13:2,5). In such a context he would have had a variety of employees, perhaps some slaves, and would learn by experience whom he could t rust. Thus he sorrowed that (1S:2, 3) "a son of my house(hold) will be my heir," the Damascene(?) Eliezer. "Son" here (as often in Semitic) is simply "member," be it servant or slave, of the household in question. Such adoptions by childless couples are well attested in Near Eastern antiquity. For the Old Babylonian period we have analogous cases in both formal law collections and in day-to-day legal practice: in, e.g., the Laws of Hammurabi, 191, guarding the adoptee's rights even if children are later born naturally to his adoptive father.,9 And in real -life cases, mutual safeguards applied. So, for example, slightly earlier at Mari, the couple Hillalum and AlituI1l adopted Yahatti-el as heir; "if Hillalum and Alitum should have many children, Yahatti-el is (still) senior heir, and shall have the double share - his younger brothers then share (the balance) equally."40 A variety of other Old Babylonian documents tell a similar tale.41

(ii) An Heir by Proxy

However, Abraham was told he would have a son of his own (Gen . 15:4). But, after a long wait, Sarah his wife tried to move things along, and persuaded him to have a child by her maidservant Hagar (Gen . 16). Two generat ions later we find this same phenomenon in jacob's family. Unable herself to bear sons to jacob, Rachel gave him her maidservant 13ilhah to bear him sons on her account (JO:38) . Then, ceasing from